Laurent Robert - Left-Footed Wizard

With an absolute rocket of a left foot, an outstanding talent for crossing and a penchant for bursting the net from distance - Between 2001 and 2005, Laurent Robert was the man who got you off your seat.


He was signed from PSG for what was a sizeable price tag back then of £9.5M, after leading the scoring chart for the French giants in the previous campaign. Perhaps Robert's record of 32 goals in 181 appearances does not scream genius, although it is certainly a decent return for a winger. However, he left Tyneside with supporters craving more.


Over the last thirteen years or so Newcastle supporters have felt increasingly as though they are not allowed to have nice things but when Robert was in town it was a different story - Managed by Sir Bobby Robson and playing European football, Newcastle United were among England's finest.


If Robert needed to prove to anyone just how dangerous his left foot could be, he certainly proved his point when he notched his first goal at St James' Park against Manchester United. Approximately 30 yards from goal, with Fabien Barthez at the ready, the Geordie faithful fell silent in anticipation. I can still hear the noise as the ball made the Leazes End net ripple. Newcastle went on to win the game 4-3 in what was an epic encounter.


Robert's 8 goals in the league helped Newcastle to a 4th place finish and qualification for the Champions League. In fact, Robert's tally was only bettered by Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy that season. Yes, it's a highlight reel but Robert's collection of strikes for Newcastle are jaw-droppingly good. Among his 32 goals was an audacious free-kick during his first season against Southampton. Over 30 yards out, a huge run up... He couldn't, could he? Of course, he could! Before 'keeper Paul Jones could blink, the ball thundered into the bottom left-hand corner. You just don't see goal like that anymore!


Robert provided an impressive 53 assists over his 181 appearances. He may have been known for his world-class strikes but he was a fantastic provider too. The likes of Bellamy and Shearer profited from Robert's superb crossing ability, which he could do from deep or the byline. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this special player was the inconsistency, something which probably prevented Robert from truly reaching his full potential.


The former PSG man knew his time at Newcastle was up when Sir Bobby Robson was sacked. The moment that happened, the feeling within the club changed and so too did the style of play. Robert saw Sir Bobby Robson as a father-like figure to him and couldn't believe the club's decision to sack the former England manager.


On his day, Robert was up there with the best - He could wrong foot an opponent, his vision was exquisite and his ability to score the most outrageous of goals was dumbfounding. There is no doubt that Robert's best days were spent on Tyneside. Sir Bobby Robson, as was the case with the majority of players he managed, got the very best out of the Frenchman. It is almost a case of "What if?" with Robert, had Sir Bobby Robson remained as manager there is no doubt Robert would have stayed on Tyneside longer than he did. Had that happened, the club and Robert would undoubtedly have had a more success on the pitch.


It is easy to look back on Robert's career at Newcastle and yearn for a player of his ability in the current squad. However, there were times in which the Frenchman could frustrate even the calmest of souls. Perhaps, in a strange way that is why Robert was loved even more on Tyneside. Robert was quite a character and supporters gravitated to him similarly to fellow compatriots David Ginola and Hatem Ben Arfa.


Many Newcastle supporters suggest Papiss Cisse's brace against Chelsea as being the best brace they've seen, though Robert may just have something to say about that. In December 2003 against Tottenham, Robert scored twice as he managed to somehow upstage Shearer. The former Newcastle captain had notched twice and in doing so completed a century of goals for the club. It was Robert who would make all the headlines though, as the Frenchman scored two absolute crackers. One being a quite ridiculous left-footed volley from approximately 25 yards out. Robert's second was a lethal 30 yard strike, leaving Kasey Keller with absolutely no chance of getting near it.


After his last game for Newcastle, Robert famously stripped down to his grey underpants throwing everything else to the Geordie faithful as he waved goodbye to a sea of black and white. Following his Newcastle exit Robert would go on to make just 78 appearances across 6 different clubs as he left his best years in St. James' Park.


A modern day icon for Newcastle United, still adored by fans and whose highlight videos grace any platform. You watch football to be entertained and amazed and Laurent Robert certainly did that!

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