EXCLUSIVE: Bargain Ba plays down his personal value
Published 22:25 02/03/12 By Simon Bird
Demba Ba has just been shown the goalscoring charts in which he sits
only a little way behind Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
His 16 goals have helped turn Newcastle from also-rans to top-six contenders.
The haul makes him one of the bargain transfers of last summer (a free from West Ham) – and possibly next summer
(he has an alleged release clause of £7million).
But he declared, unusually for a front man: “I am a striker, goals are important, but scoring is not a drug for me. Being up there with Van Persie, Rooney and Sergio Aguero makes me feel good, especially when I play for Newcastle and they play for Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City.
“But the most important thing is to see Newcastle near the top, not my name. The goals aren’t down to me, they are made by the team, the whole club.
“Playing well, enjoying, being happy is worth the same as scoring goals. If I don’t score, but I have an impact on the game, then I’m happy.” That’s the kind of respectful outlook and team ethic Ba learned growing up as part of a big family – he has seven siblings – in Normandy, France.
“It was a very simple and very easy childhood. It was a big family. I am one of the smallest – two little brothers and that is it. All the others are bigger than me.
“I learned to play football with family and friends. When you grow up and don’t have that much money, the cheapest thing you can buy to play with is a ball. Everyone had a ball and we had games.
“And the first thing I learned is respect for all people and not to be self important. Lesson one: if my brother, who was older, said to go and get something, I could not say, ‘No, I am Demba Ba’. I would just get my shoes on and do it! Or he would bash me!
“It is team-work. The family help me on the good moments and the bad. So, when I have success, I just give it back.”
From Normandy to Newcastle, via lower leagues in France, rejections at the likes of Watford, to Freiburg and West Ham, Ba’s elevation this season has inevitably sparked debate about his future.
owner David Sullivan claimed last week that Ba can quit Newcastle if a
rival bids £7m – with the player pocketing half the fee – and also
raised the player’s old,
but no longer troublesome, knee injury.
“Last week David Sullivan was talking about my injury. Maybe he was sad I left Upton Park. I used to like him,” Ba said.
“With the offer he put on the table, he wouldn’t have made it if he thought I had a bad knee and was injured! The way he is acting and talking now, it’s bad.
“I don’t know how people talk about the clause. Only me and my agent know. I don’t know why people are talking about my future.
“It annoys me. It has been speculated about a lot. I was in Africa with Senegal and my room-mate looked on the internet and said, ‘Look, you are leaving Newcastle!’ I started laughing.
“I just said, ‘They will see when I go back to Newcastle that they
So that leads to the question of whether he would chase money over happiness in the summer. Ba said: “I can settle anywhere. As long as I feel happy at home, that’s all that matters. There are a lot of people who get a lot of money and kill themselves. The most important thing is to be happy.
“If we were just hitting the ball up front and making me fight for it,
I would not be happy. But here we have players like Cheik Tiote (left) and Yohan Cabaye, who pass it and pass it. That is important.
“Newcastle is a special place. Last weekend a Wolves player looked at me in the middle of the match. He mentioned the passion of the fans and it made me happy to be here.”
Ba says he is always searching for perfection on the pitch. He has a definition of perfection, too.
“People say you can never play the perfect game, but you can still look for it,” he added. “A hat-trick against Sunderland would be more than perfect!”