Monday 19 September: The morning paper arrives and the back page screams every variety of 'Shearer and Owen' headline known to man.
And there, in the results column, Blackburn Rovers 0 Newcastle United 3 (Shearer, Owen and N’Zogbia). Suddenly, the world’s a brighter place and that dream of seeing Alan Shearer and Michael Owen side by side on a Newcastle United scoresheet has finally been realised.
|"He’s a natural. He’s brave, can pass, run, and has a great temperament. If asked to compare him to anyone else, I’d say Archie Gemmill."|
|Former NUFC Chief Scout, Charlie Woods|
Two of England's finest ever marksmen take their combined tally of Premiership goals to a staggering 370.
The Third Man
But what about the forgotten third man? The 19 year old Frenchman who had laid Owen’s first ever black and white goal on a plate, and went on to score his second top flight goal in a week. His only Premiership goals for the club.
Make no mistake, in more than playing his part at Ewood and salvaging a point against Fulham, it had been a very good week at the office for Charles N’Zogbia.
Indeed, it was fitting that the youngster should produce the finale finish against Rovers - it was against them that he made his United debut as a last minute substitute just over a year earlier, in another 3-0 win!
The Magpies might just have unearthed a gem in the bright, pacy and quick-witted Frenchman...or should that be unearthed by a Londoner?
As a 17-year-old, N’Zogbia was brought to Charlie Wood’s attention by a friend in the capital. United’s former chief scout was immediately impressed by the video footage.
"Having seen videos of the boy (N’Zogbia) we decided to get him to the club for a trial as quickly as possible," says Woods. "The Chairman gave the decision clearance and he was here within a week.
"He made an immediate impression, so much so that in one practice game, Alan Shearer went out of his way to ask 'Where did you get this one from, Charlie?'
|N'Zogbia scores against Blackburn|
"He’s a natural," says Woods. "He’s brave, can pass, run, and has a great temperament. If asked to compare him to anyone else, I’d say Archie Gemmill (the great Scottish midfielder) or in the modern day game, Edgar Davids.
"Once we’d cleared the paperwork with Le Havre and FIFA, Charles spoke to his parents about coming to England full time. His mother, who brought him up immaculately in their small flat close to the Stade De France in Paris, said 'you must go to England.' "
The rest, as they say, is history and Woods believes there’s plenty more to come. "He’ll only get stronger and his best position is probably centre midfield," says the former United scout. "He’s just a lovely young man."
So, courtesy of a fairly unlikely source, and after protracted transfer negotiations – not to mention a few French failures over the years – Newcastle might just have a new hero courtesy of a real "Boys Own" story.
Just goes to show, it’s not just "video nasties" that lurk in your VHS recorder!