herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Obertan's faith pays off as goal eases Toon woe

Forgotten man Gabriel Obertan has insisted he never doubted himself after easing the pressure on beleaguered Newcastle boss Alan Pardew with a priceless winner.

The 25-year-old winger secured a 1-0 victory over the Foxes with a decisive 71st-minute strike which underlined both the talent he has and the fact that it has remained largely unfulfilled during his time on Tyneside.

But the former Manchester United midfielder revealed he never lost faith in himself as he redoubled his efforts to persuade Pardew he still had a role to play at St James' Park after it appeared that his days in the north-east were over.

Obertan said: "I have always been confident in myself and my ability, so it might be a surprise for some people, but not for me. I have been grinding quite a while for this and it's just a great feeling at the moment.

"I just kept on working hard. I know the most important thing is working when people don't see you.

"It's easy to train when you have got the coaches patting you on the back, but these moments when you are by yourself are the moments when you really have to work hard and dig deep."

Obertan appeared to be surplus to requirements at St James' as Pardew re-shaped his squad during the summer, and he was not even on the plane when the Magpies headed for New Zealand as part of their pre-season preparations.

However, he was the toast of the Toon on Saturday evening after finally ending the club's wait for a first Premier League win of the campaign at the eighth attempt, in the process sparing them from a worst ever start.

On an eventful day on Tyneside - there are rarely any other kind - Obertan and his team-mates had to wait an hour to set about their task after the dressing panels surrounding a newly-erected giant TV screen were loosened by the wind, requiring a speedy repair job by hastily-summoned engineers.

Thereafter, it proved far from straightforward as stubborn Leicester defence and sub-standard finishing kept the scoreline unchanged until 19 minutes from time.

Leicester full-back Richie de Laet strode forward and unleashed a long-range shot which cannoned back off midfielder Jack Colback and the ball dropped kindly for Papiss Cisse, who fed Obertan on the left.

The winger, as he had done repeatedly during the game, exploited the space ahead of him at pace and cut inside before setting himself and blasting an unstoppable shot past keeper Kasper Schmeichel and into the bottom corner, his first goal for almost two years and just his third for the club.

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