NEW Newcastle United striker Demba Ba insists he is mentally strong enough to cope with the pressures of playing at St James’s Park.
The Senegal star (pictured) has been tasked with bringing goals to Newcastle after signing on a free transfer from West Ham last month.
And he shrugged off questions about his previous knee troubles to insist he will rise to the challenge of life on Tyneside.
Ba, 26, has bounced back from rejections by Watford, Barnsley, Swansea, Lyon and Auxerre to finally establish himself as an international hitman, and believes those knockbacks have made him a stronger person.
He said: “My best quality is that mentally I am very strong.
“If you are a good, strong player you can thrive on pressure and expectation and rise to the challenge.
“Football is all about having fun. I will always be happy on a football pitch.
“When I was young and looking for a club, I went to Watford for a couple of months and I learned a hell of a lot. I hoped to get a contract, but it didn’t work out. I was upset but I didn’t want to give up. I had always wanted to play in English football.
“I went to Swansea and Barnsley looking again. I did my best. I tried to make those clubs take me but it didn’t work out, and after a few months I had to go back to France.
“I never gave up. It helps that I have had to work hard to get where I am now, at this great club. I have had setbacks. Everything happens in life for a reason, good and bad.
“It has worked out well for me to think I was turned down by Swansea and Barnsley and now I am playing for a club as big as Newcastle!”
As for his fitness record – Ba failed a medical at Stoke before signing for West Ham in January – Ba added: “People will talk about my knee all my life. I will prove there is no problem by playing well and scoring goals. Let them talk.
“I am fit and healthy. They will only stop asking about it if they see me playing and scoring goals.
“Look at the stats from West Ham last season. I will let my football do the talking.”
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew hopes that will translate into success on the pitch, but while the Parisian has been joined by Yohan Cabaye and Sylvain Marveaux from France, he insists he won’t be acting as a translator for his new team-mates.
Ba added: “I will help the new French players, but I won’t be a translator for them. They have to learn English for themselves! They already speak basic English and will learn fast.”