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So happy for the fans - 14/11/2002

So happy for the fans
Two goals but so much more
   Craig Bellamy
   Newcastle United
 Leagues & Cups:
   Champions League

Taking in last night’s game, sitting in that stadium, listening to two sets of brilliant fans, seeing the flares, the ribbons, the flags, and to take in a game that had so much to it, well it was simply fantastic. Professionally it was massively disappointing not to have taken part – who wouldn’t want to have played in that game? Nevertheless, as a Newcastle lad I’ve witnessed a historic game that’s lifted the club to a level that's never been reached in my lifetime. Nothing is ever simple here, we always seem to do it the hard way. No other team has ever come back from losing their first three group games, so perhaps the fact we’ve also made history has simply added to the excitement.

We did very well in the first half, so well that we silenced their fans. Beller’s is an incredible character, he’d been out for three and a half weeks yet he turns in a performance like that. His confidence in his own ability is second to none, and as a striker who’s been out for a while – with a niggling injury – he’s been brilliant. It’s just a shame he didn’t get a hat trick, but having said that we can hardly complain!!! As for the much-criticised defence, that was a great performance. Not that the media will pick it up. After conceding the first Feyenoord goal the whole stadium went up. The pressure was intense and the atmosphere incredible. Waves of Feyenoord attacks were soaked up and to hold on was a fantastic achievement. I accept that goals and strikers make for better headlines, but after so much criticism at the back, I hope this is acknowledged. Yes, we let in two goals last night, but we kept a clean sheet against Juve and during the first stage of the competition have only conceded an average of a goal and third – and that’s against top quality opposition.

I didn’t get down to see the lads at half time, but I guess that they knew the score in Kiev. During the game I was kept up to date with the goals going in, but with the game kicking off in the Ukraine three minutes after ours, the lads on the pitch didn’t know we’d qualified until we were all in the changing rooms after the game. To be honest everyone was knackered, not just with the physical 90 minutes, but the mental strain of concentration - it really takes it out of you, especially when we were under so much pressure in the second half. There were a few shouts and happy faces, but if they weren’t so drained I think the celebrations could have been louder and gone on longer.

It’s 12.30 and I’ve just arrived back from Holland, we couldn’t fly from Rotterdam last night, so we stayed over and flew from Schiphol this morning. The adrenaline was still pumping last night - even though I wasn’t playing, and it must have been gone 2.00am before I got to sleep. I’ve just heard about the teams we could be playing against, at this stage of the competition I’d prefer to face the biggest and best of the competition. Getting here has been wonderful, and now we’re facing the best teams in Europe. We’ve played Barca this pre-season and as a club we’ve been to the Nou Camp in ’97. For the players and fans, I think a trip to the Bernabeu would be first choice. It’s a new ground for us and look at their players…Ronaldo, Figo, Zidane, Raul, Roberto Carlos. As for the Italians, well both play at the San Siro, but AC is probably my choice. I’m not bothered which German side we play, Leverkusen or Dortmund, although Leverkusen are struggling in the Bundesliga. I just hope that I’ll get a chance to play, even if it’s from the bench.

With so much hype it’s important that we don’t lose site of the Premiership. It’s Southampton on Saturday, and it seems a million miles away from the Champions League. They are playing well, not conceding too many goals, and we have to make sure we’re focused for their visit. We want Champions League football every year, and to do so we need to come in the top four. This has to be our primary target, and it's a tough task. Don't think it'll be an easy three points on Saturday, I think Gordon Strachan would have something to say about that! However, the Premiership needn't stop us enjoying last night, we're all been part of something special here, the club, the players, and the fans!

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