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Happy Birthday Laurent Robert

Was he better than Ginola?

Thanks to NUFC.COM for reminding us.

Born this day in 1975 the French international left winger who began his career with Montpelier and was signed from Paris St.Germain in August 2001 at a cost of £9.5m. 

Introduced to the SJP crowd ahead of the Intertoto tie with 1860 Munich, Laurent's first outing was in Robert Lee's testimonial against Athletic Bilbao, before a full debut in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea, with Bobby Robson saying,  "I think we have signed a gem". 

Robert's first goal came in his third game for the club and was a memorable effort to cap a 4-1 win at the smoggies. Three more strikes then followed in four-goal victories (4-3 at home to Man United, 4-0 at Bolton and 4-1 at home to Ipswich in the League Cup), before sealing our famous Highbury victory as we topped the table. 

Five more goals and various assists followed that season as United finished fourth, going one place better in the following campaign - although Laurent enjoyed a less prolific season in front of goal.

A dozen netbusters followed in what proved to be Sir Bobby's last full campaign in charge, including two stupendous efforts in a home win over Spurs in December 2003.

The final season of Robert's SJP career was something of a long goodbye, his attitude never likely to prove popular with the newly-installed Graeme Souness.

This had come to a head by the time United played the second leg of their UEFA Cup Quarter Final away to Sporting Lisbon.

Robert watching from the stand as his side threw away a lead having being dropped following pre-match comments in the press criticising club performances, tactics and transfers - claiming (correctly) that United had gone backwards in twelve months.

With no communication between him and Souness a parting was inevitable and following a farewell bow against Chelsea when he left the SJP pitch clad only in grey underpants, his bags were packed.

Joining Portsmouth on a season-long loan, the departure of French boss Alain Perrin soon sent that into a tailspin - after just one goal and a public refusal to be among the substitute in a game at the mackems.

Nominally a Newcastle player again in late 2005, he was released from his deal and joined Portuguese side Benfica in 2006.

Moves to Levante in Spain, relegation-bound Derby County, Toronto in the MLS under ex-Toon coach John Carver, and finally to Greece side Larissa  in 2008, where he teamed up with ex-Toon team mate Nikos Dabizas.

Back in France by 2009 Robert tried to keep fit by training with former club PSG - along with fellow free agent, Fabrice Pancrate. And when the latter was offered a trial at SJP, Robert encouraged him to go.

Hanging up his boots, Laurent returned to former club Montpellier during 2014 as a coach, assisting their youth and women's teams.

Robert is one of my favourite ever Toon heroes and, based purely on their times at Newcastle, I rate Robert a far better player than David Ginola, not a widely held belief but I would argue that the stats confirm that opinion.

Robert 181 Games 32 Goals 54 Assists

Ginola 76 Games 7 Goals 16 Assists

I rest my case! Follow this link to see all his goals and enoy. Iknow you will!!

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Propa propa old man!

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