Cisse: Newcastle is my kind of Toon
Published 22:00 10/02/12 By Simon Bird
Papiss Cisse walked into his local corner-shop on Sunday night and was mobbed by fans, applauded for his debut goal, and asked for his autograph.
It was his second “welcome to Newcastle” moment - the first was the rousing ovation he got a few hours earlier after coming on and scoring the winner against Aston Villa.
Cisse has come a long way from the days when he says he was, "A teenager of 14 or 15 playing football in the street in Senegal, and having my mates say, 'You are quite good, you know. You should join a team.'"
He explained why his Tyneside shopping trip showed him the Toon will be the perfect place for him to thrive, wear the club's famous No9 shirt and score goals.
Not because he liked the “celebrity” side of football - he says he prefers a quite life of watching films and playing computer games.
He said: “They live and breathe football here and I wanted to go to club like that. Demba [Ba, his Senegal team-mate and now club colleague] had told me how the people here love the game and how passionate they are. I feed off that positive energy.
"I want to thrive here. This is a football city with great support for the club. It makes me very happy to know they are like that. This is my sort of club.
“It’s important for me to have that special relationship with the fans which is one of the reasons I liked the idea of coming to Newcastle.
“When I was at Metz [in France], nobody knew who I was. I could walk around and nobody would bother me, but when I went to Freiburg [in Germany] it changed. I had a very special bond with the fans at Freiburg and they will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget that.”
Cisse was signed for £9million in January to relaunch Newcastle’s strike-force and give Alan Pardew’s fresh impetus for games such as Saturday's tea-time fixture at third-place Tottenham.
The expectation that comes with being an expensive new signing and following the likes of Alan Shearer and Jackie Milburn as Newcastle's No9 does not daunt him.
In fact he has gained confidence because of his long journey to get to the top of the game.
He added: “I just played football with my friends in the streets and people used to say to me I was too good to do that. I decided to move to Dakar, the capital, and I joined a club there. From there I went to Metz in France.
“I was 19 when I arrived there and they said I wasn’t ready yet, I still had a lot to learn, so I went out on loan to Cherbourg.
"I’ve always been positive. I never doubted myself, I just listened and learnt. My hero was always Samuel Eto’o.
“I don’t feel under pressure now because I don’t stress about things. It is not pressure to play football, I’m just eager to do well. My will and my desire are strong. I just want to show what I can do here. The price tag doesn’t worry me.”
Cisse has moved to Newcastle alone, but has Ba and a host of French speaking team mates to lean on.
He added: “I have really enjoyed it, I’ve had a lot of help from my team-mates and I hope I’m going to be very happy here. It has been a good start and I’ve liked what I’ve seen of the club and the city.
“Demba had told me quite a lot about the club. I knew they are a big, big team and that is why I’ve come here. It’s a big plus for me to be playing at a club like this at this stage in my career.
“I know I’ve got Alan Shearer’s number on my back and I need to show him I’m worthy of it. I know I have a lot to prove here and I know what the shirt means to this football club. I’m very proud to wear it and I hope I can be successful in it.
"That is why I’ve come here, it is a special challenge and I’m very excited about what the future holds.
“I don’t get over-excited just because I’ve scored one goal. I’m not the kind of player who thinks I’m a big star. I just pray to God I will score even more goals for Newcastle United.
"I’m already focused on what happens in the next game. I want to be here for a long time and score a lot of goals. That is my ambition.
"I’ve played one game, that is all. It’s just a start.”