SHEFKI Kuqi today thanked Alan Pardew for giving him the chance of a lifetime at Newcastle United.
But the striker admitted he’ll be judged on actions, and not words, at St James’s Park.
The 34-year-old yesterday joined the club until the end of the season to provide cover up front in the wake of Andy Carroll’s sale, and the injury to Shola Ameobi.
Kuqi could make his debut against his former club Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park tomorrow.
The much-travelled player will be named as a substitute after two days of training with his new team-mates, with Pardew having wanted a physical option to bring off the bench.
Newcastle is by far the biggest club Kuqi will have represented.
And Kuqi is determined he won’t let Pardew – or a fanbase which had hoped for a bigger name – down over the coming months.
“In my career, this is one of the happiest times,” Kuqi said.
“It’s the biggest club I’ve played for in every respect. It’s every player’s dream to play for this club in front of 50,000 every week, not just in front of them, but with the support they give as well.
“I’ve had a taste of the Premier League, and it’s the best place to be. I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.
“I’m not going to promise to do this and that, but one thing I’ll definitely do is give 110 per cent every game, and every minute I’m on the pitch.
“I’ll try and help the team as much as I can.
“I think everybody knows why I’m here. I’m not here to make a name for myself or build my career – I’m here to help the team as much as I can.
“It’s great here – it’s a very good bunch of lads. I know most of them from before, and have played against them.
“To train with them between now and the end of the season will be great.
“I’m feeling fit. You take a couple of days to get into the system, but as a footballer that’s what you do. It’s nothing new.”
The decision of Pardew – who has refuted a report United couldn’t afford Brazilian free agent Ewerthon’s wages – to sign Kuqi as a short-term replacement for Andy Carroll has attracted criticism given his age.
Kuqi, signed as a free agent, had his contract at Championship club Swansea cancelled by mutual consent last month.
And the Finland international is desperate to repay that faith.
“Words won’t be enough to thank the gaffer for giving me this opportunity and trusting me,” Kuqi went on. “I don’t think it was an easy decision for him.
“He needed someone because of injuries, and to believe in me and trust in my ability is a great thing for me.
“Hopefully, I can pay him back. The only way to do that is to help the team when I get on the pitch.”
Fate pits Kuqi against Blackburn, and he went on: “I had a good time there – I’ve got good memories of that club.
“One season we just managed to stay up, and afterwards we finished sixth and we qualified for Europe. It was a great time, but you’ve got to move on, and I did.
“It’ll be great to play against them.”
Meanwhile, Pardew has revealed Ameobi – who fractured his cheekbone at Fulham last week – could be available in “two or three” weeks with the help of a protective facemask.