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INTER the big time - 25/11/2002

INTER the big time
   Kieron Dyer
   Craig Bellamy
   Alan Shearer
 Leagues & Cups:
   Champions League

Wednesday night will see the club enter a new phase in the Champions League and a new phase in the history of the club. This is the big time, and it’s where Newcastle United belong. For too long this club has underachieved but with second phase Champions League football, things are different.

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the game, as the players run out of the tunnel take a minute to look around you, take in the atmosphere, the Champions League signage, the smiles on faces, the sight of 50,000 Geordies willing their team on. This is why all those past disappointments have been worth it – don’t let the moment pass you by. You’ve a part to play, and for me, I believe it’s a bigger part than most of you believe. When I look back at the famous Barca win in ’97, it was the crowd that pushed us into that 3-0 lead. You can play the part again, and you need to play the part again if we’re to make any headway at this stage of the competition.

Inter are a world class side, just missing out in the Italian League last season and now they’re arguable stronger this time around. Players such as Crespo, Vieri and Recoba will be looking to show why they are rated so highly. They’re taking Newcastle seriously, just look at the team selection for their derby with AC Milan – that’ll tell you how important this game is to them!

They’ll come to St. James with a game plan, and it’ll involve a calculated, thoughtful strategy to absorb pressure and catch Newcastle on the break. They’ll play cat and mouse and if they get that goal start they’re past masters at keeping a clean sheet, they’ll play deep and look to negate the speed of Dyer and Bellamy. Newcastle only know how to play attacking football and this is where the crowd becomes the 12th man. Get behind the team, urge them forward and we’ve a chance. There’ll be a game within the game, and the threesome of Alan Shearer, with the pace of Dyer and Bellers can be the deciding factor. Inter will be petrified of the pace of the latter two, it’s their achilles heel and if we can use it to the best of our ability, we’re in with a good chance.

When Al came to Newcastle, he came because he wanted to win things, this hasn’t gone to script, but it’s nights like these that’ll repay his decision to come to sign. He’s won awards and accolades year after year, but where he really wants success is on the pitch. I know it’s been said countless times before, but to come back from the injuries he’s had, to train with such dedication, and to play with such determination justifies reward. I’d love Newcastle to progress for many a reason, I spent some great times up here, I’m still spending a lot of my time here and I’ll always have an affinity for the place. But what I’d really love to see is the realisation of the potential that’s been talked about. Success on the field is what it’s all about, and it’s what the fans crave more than anything else. But for the Geordie in Alan Shearer, this is something special, and to see him walking off St. James Park at five to ten on Wednesday night with a big smile on his face would mean the so much to so many.

So I’ve got a message for everyone with a ticket…this is the big time, savour it, give it your all, you’ve a part to play – for yourselves, the club, and the players.

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