Moments after Kieran Trippier’s disappointing Newcastle United debut had ended, he showed signs of what he could bring to the club as it embarks on a new era.
The Magpies had just been knocked out of the FA Cup at home by League One Cambridge United, a nadir in an already difficult season, which has brought just one victory and left them in the Premier League relegation zone.
Most of the players didn’t acknowledge the near-capacity crowd at full-time but one who did was Trippier – and he encouraged others to join him. Though he was largely ignored, the 31-year-old was already trying to lead by example.
Arriving as the first signing since the approval of a Saudi Arabian-backed takeover at Newcastle United’s new era, Trippier has expectation on his shoulders. After all, the club are now heralded as one of the richest in the world.
But, according to his former coaches and team-mates, the full-back has all the characteristics needed to prove an influential figure on Tyneside as he prepares to make his Premier League debut for his new club – Saturday’s crucial visit of relegation rivals Watford.
“Kieran was tenacious, he always wanted to win,” Jim Cassell, Trippier’s former Manchester City academy director, tells BBC Sport. “It was common for kids and parents to be in awe of you as the boss. To me, it was important for them to grow beyond you in terms of leadership and the responsibility they have towards training and playing.”
Cassell, who has known Trippier since he was nine, adds: “Going to Newcastle, 52,000 people are desperate to see him play and play well, what a responsibility that is.”
‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become Newcastle captain soon’
Trippier left Manchester City in 2012, signed by Newcastle boss Eddie Howe at Burnley after a loan spell, before going on to Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid, captaining England once, and returning to his home country when he moved to Tyneside for £12m this month.
His mentality though was evident even as a student at Woodhey High School in Ramsbottom, Bury, Greater Manchester.
“When he was at school, people looked up to him,” says Lee Garcka, Trippier’s former PE teacher. “He would try to involve everybody and…