“I didn’t enjoy killing Gerrard’s dream.” But not all stories can end in fairy tales’ – Athletics


Sunny October, a hotel restaurant with green velvet dressed right next to the Champs-Elysées and a sharply dressed clientele that looks like it just got lost from the “Call My Agent” set … it’s a scene that can’t be more Parisian if he tried.

But Demba Ba is somewhere else for a moment, a million and 558 miles away, right in the happiest place he has ever been as a footballer.

“When you go to St James’ Park, through the tunnel and turn to see the mighty stand, and you hear the noise the first time a chill runs down your spine,” he says, looking into his memories of Tyneside. “It’s the feeling I miss the most because I left football last month.” I had other happy times, especially in Besiktas, but the connection with Newcastle fans was so deep, the bond inside the locker room so strong and I scored a lot of goals … it was the perfect combination. I have so much love and respect for them and they still have love and respect for me. They are grateful for what I have done for them, and I am also grateful for what they have done for me. “

When Ba agreed to look back on a busy 16-year career on both sides in Hoffenheim, Chelsea, Istanbul Basaksehir and Shanghai Shenhua a few weeks ago, neither he nor The Athletic had any idea that Newcastle would be the most discussed club in Europe at the right time. As a Parisian native, the former Senegalese international knows all about the transformative power of Gulf money.

“I was lucky because I was a Paris Saint-Germain fan before they were taken over and I’ve been a Newcastle fan since signing in 2011. No one can call me a fame hunter,” he laughs. “I’ve been fighting all these years.” I’m buzzing now.


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