SHEFKI Kuqi can’t wait to get his Newcastle United career up and running – six and a half years after Sir Bobby Robson tried to take him to St James’s Park.
Kuqi, inset, joined the club this week as a free agent to strengthen injury-hit Alan Pardew’s attacking options.
And the 34-year-old was in the squad for this afternoon’s game against former club Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
However, Kuqi could have joined Newcastle back in 2004, when the Finland international caught Robson’s eye playing – and scoring – against United for Ipswich Town in a pre-season testimonial at Portman Road.
Kuqi had also netted against Sir Bobby’s side in the colours of Sheffield Wednesday the previous year in another warm-up fixture, but the move never came off, and Kuqi had to wait for the biggest move of his career.
“You always, always try to do your best, and get the best move you can to the biggest club,” Kuqi said.
“This opportunity hasn’t come before, but it’s quite funny – about three or four weeks ago I was talking to a good friend of Sir Bobby Robson.
“I was talking to him on the phone and he said ‘I remember when Bobby was at Newcastle and you scored for Ipswich against them in pre-season’.
“He said Bobby asked ‘who’s this bloke? He said he was going to try you, but he didn’t know what happened.
“Obviously, it never happened, and I personally never heard anything. He was a really good friend of Bobby, and he told me. It was good to hear that, and now I’m here.”
Kuqi has been signed as a short-term measure by Pardew, who lost Andy Carroll to Liverpool last month, and Shola Ameobi to injury a week and a half ago.
While he knows his signing hasn’t captured the imagination of a fanbase still coming to terms with the sale of Carroll, Kuqi hopes the club’s support will warm to his work ethic, and honesty, between now and the end of the season.
“My message is quite clear – I’m not going to promise to be Andy Carroll, or whoever,” Kuqi went on.
“They will see me work hard and give everything for the team. One thing I will always put in front of myself is the team. To me, if we win three points and I don’t score a goal, that doesn’t matter to me.
“All I’m thinking now is Newcastle, and trying to get the best out of myself.”
Kuqi is know for his belly-flop goal celebration, which he hopes to perform during his time at United.
“I started a long time ago. I was doing it, and as I felt better and got a little bit of practice, I was going higher and higher,” said Kuqi.