Papiss Cisse : The Striker Whose Legacy Was Defined By 14 Astonishing Games

Papiss Cisse
Julian Finney/Getty Images

He may have spent over four years on Tyneside, but any utterance of the name Papiss Cisse will always immediately bubble up memories of his outrageous start to life as a Premier League footballer.

Everything after that was basically null and void. Sure, he still scored a few goals in the four full seasons he had at Newcastle, but those of us without an affiliation to the Magpies rarely saw past those first six months.

Which is no way a discredit to his ability or what he achieved after the 2011/12 season, far from it, it’s simply because he was so frighteningly good in those 14 games that he reset the bar for what could be described as ‘impact’.

Seven years playing in France earned him a move to the Bundesliga in 2009, where he found his feet in top level football with 39 goals in 67 outings.

Cisse didn’t even have chance to finish the 2011/12 campaign before the Premier League snapped him up, in what will probably go down as Alan Pardew’s finest signing.

It was also Newcastle’s highest top flight finish in eight years, which was a largely in part to the Senegalese striker’s incredibly short bedding in period – as well as strawberry syrup, of course.

The Toon already had themselves an impressive forward hailing from the same nation in Demba Ba, who was finding the back of the net with his own credible regularity. But the need for another striker was clear, and Pardew made the £9.6m move for Cisse.

Papiss CissePapiss Cisse
Stu Forster/Getty Images

But even for someone with the arrogance of Pardew, nobody could foresee what would happened next. Seriously, it was sensational.

Coming on as a substitute in the 14th minute against Aston Villa for his debut, Cisse set the tone for the rest of the season.

Donning the famous number nine jersey, he fired a scintillating strike into the top corner to seal all three points for his new side. Great technique and a superb finish. Cisse was here and what a start,

A tricky trip away to Tottenham followed in which he has handed his full debut, but the Magpies fell to a crushing 5-0 defeat and Cisse was powerless to stop it. Great start on his first appearance, but maybe that’s it? Ha! Not a chance.

Back at St. James’ Park and Wolves were in town, but it was Cisse who showed the predatory instinct on this occasion, reacting quickly to a loose ball for a well measured finish to open the scoring. Two homes games and two goals. Not bad…

Newcastle United's Senegal striker, PapiNewcastle United's Senegal striker, Papi

Then two games pass. No goals. Is he of the Georginio WIjnaldum ilk? Is he incapable of scoring away from home? Seems like he could be good, but he’s not all that, is he? Is he???

Oh, Norwich came up next in the north east…and Cisse scores again. This lad is actually good, isn’t he?

Time to pop off to the midlands and take on West Brom. Newcastle are chasing a European berth this season, so Cisse needed to find his (away) scoring boots. Well, 45 minutes gone, and he’s got himself a brace. Wow, have Newcastle uncovered a gem here? What’s going on?

Liverpool at home next. This is Cisse’s turf. He’s shown what he’s got, he’ll score again.

Hasn’t scored a header yet though, has he? Spoke too soon, 90 minutes later and he had, along with a sit-Pepe-Reina-on-his-backside bit of skill in the penalty box. At this point you could feel Pardew’s smugness, but, on this occasion, you have to praise him because he signed a man on fire.

Papiss Cisse, Yohan CabayePapiss Cisse, Yohan Cabaye
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

At this point he was breaking Newcastle scoring records, scoring every type of goal possible and striking fear into even the most seasoned Premier League defenders. It had to stop. It had to eventually.

So, Swansea come around next away from home and he scores another brace. ANOTHER brace, that included a gorgeous lobbed finish in the second half. This is getting ridiculous.

Now just stop it. This is ridiculous Cisse, mate. Stop scoring, you’re making everyone else look bad. Nobody comes into a new league and scores nine goals in their first eight league matches. Oh? They don’t? They score ten in their first nine???

Cisse certainly does, as Bolton found out next up on the fixture list.

Newcastle United's Senegalese striker PaNewcastle United's Senegalese striker Pa

Stoke next. What’s coming? A goal, obviously.

Wigan come and go. He doesn’t score. It’s outrage. who is this inconsistent striker who can’t score against Wigan? Can’t be all that, can he? Now with Chelsea coming up at Stamford Bridge next he’ll surely buckle under the pressure.

Well, folks, he didn’t. This striking sensation scoffed at the mere utterance of the word ‘pressure’ to score one of the finest EVER braces seen in Premier League history.

His first is sadly forgotten about, simply because his second was on another planet. But let’s not forget his flick up and resulting volley in the first half, as it was special in its own right.

But when you manage to score a goal that has its own sodding name – more commonly associated with a half-moon shaped fruit – then you’ve got magic in your boots. We all know the ‘banana goal’, go online and watch it again for the 1,000th time, it’s so worth it.

He wouldn’t score again in the remaining two matches of the season, but he sure went out with a bang. Falling neatly into the ‘streets don’t forget’ category for his 14-game showing that season, Papiss Cisse left his mark.

The Premier League was spellbound, he wasn’t supposed to take to it so quickly. But truth be told, everyone loved it. Whether you’re Newcastle or not, it was fabulous to watch.

Papiss CissePapiss Cisse
Julian Finney/Getty Images

People were smitten by him, and I’m not joking, a compilation of those goals online has over 1.3m views.

Hats off to the man from Senegal, England didn’t know what hit it.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!


Riyad Mahrez Admits to Struggling With Initial Step Up at Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez
Sheffield United v Manchester City – Premier League | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Riyad Mahrez has admitted that the pressures of arriving for a club-record fee, and extra competition for places, contributed to his initial struggles at Manchester City after signing in 2018.

Mahrez joined City in a £60m deal off the back of an impressive stint at Leicester, where he was instrumental in their 2015/16 Premier League win, but struggled to make the step up in his debut season in Manchester.

Riyad MahrezRiyad Mahrez
Leicester City v Manchester City – Carabao Cup: Quarter Final | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Algerian winger endured a slow start to the 2018/19 season and struggled with the sudden competition for places and the increased ambitions of his new club, telling Sky Sports that he didn’t know how to deal with the different style of play: “When I arrived at City, I noticed how everyone sits back so you have to think differently.

“You have to deal differently with your opponent, and in my case the left-back because he’s always in front of me. They also always have help around him, with a midfielder or the winger, so you have to change your play and your movement.

Mahrez also revealed that new manager Pep Guardiola had confidence in him, but faith began to drop as he struggled to settle, admitting: “[He] didn’t make the difference as quick as they thought [he] would.”

Mahrez with manager GuardiolaMahrez with manager Guardiola
Mahrez with manager Guardiola | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Despite arriving with a record fee and masses of hype from City fans, Mahrez found himself warming the bench for a large chunk of his debut season. It wasn’t until towards the end of the campaign where he began to find his feet, as City beat Liverpool to the Premier League title.

Despite City trailing leaders Liverpool by 25 points this season, Mahrez has already bettered himself on a personal front, grabbing seven goals and ten assists in the league so far.

While the title race is all but decided, the 29-year-old will hope to use City’s remaining ten games to add to his impressive tally this season, bringing momentum into the 20/21 campaign.


Moussa Dembele Should Be a Priority for Clubs This Summer – Not a Consolation Prize

Moussa Dembele
France v Croatia: Group C – 2019 UEFA U-21 Championship | TF-Images/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic will no doubt affect this summer’s transfer window, perhaps halting a few key moves. But, that doesn’t mean the window will be completely redundant. Some clubs still need to strengthen, and others need to find funding through player sales.

Strikers such as Timo Werner, Lautaro Martinez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are being continually linked with moves this summer, which could initiate a transfer merry-go-round. However, with all eyes being on Werner and Martinez for the most part, Lyon’s Moussa Dembele has been seen as somewhat of a consolation prize for clubs if they can’t get any of the aforementioned trio.

And that shouldn’t be the case.

Moussa DembeleMoussa Dembele
Moussa Dembele | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

While the rest of Europe’s top leagues are set to resume play, Ligue 1’s current 2019/20 season has been cancelled, meaning Dembele’s season is over. The 23-year-old finished with a healthy rate of 22 goals and seven assists in all competitions for Lyon, putting himself out there ahead of a potential summer switch.

Since signing with the French side in 2018, Dembele has quietly gone from strength to strength, slowly become one of the better forwards on the continent, and one of few traditional out-and-out number nines that still exist at the top level.

While he isn’t without his limitations, Dembele has proved his worth and his abilities could be of use to one of Europe’s biggest clubs next season.

The Frenchman, who is yet to make an appearance for the national team at senior level, is a traditional striker. His biggest strengths lie in his resilient, hard work on and off the ball, his positioning, off-the-ball movement, and his clinical finishing.

Dembele likes to stay quite central, but will often drop deeper to help win back the ball from the opposition, or to create space in behind for his teammates to attack. His seven assists this season show that he has an eye for goal in more than one capacity.

Moussa Dembele versus JuventusMoussa Dembele versus Juventus
Moussa Dembele versus Juventus | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

With Lyon mostly playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, Dembele has been the lone striker and supported by three attacking players in behind, who look to break lines with direct play and pace. Manchester United have been linked with Dembele previously, and often set up in much similar fashion. With Bruno Fernandes adding an extra dimension of technical quality to United’s attack, Dembele could fit in as the lone striker they need up top.

While people have doubted his abilities as a consistent goalscorer from open play, Dembele is a constant threat in front of goal, managing a goal every 137 minutes in Ligue 1 this season. 16 of his 22 strikes have come in the league, leaving him third-top scorer behind only Kylian Mbappe and Wissam Ben Yedder. Not bad company, nor a bad strike rate.

All sounds good, but it is equally as important to consider his limitations, which have held him back from reaching the top level so far. While Dembele has shown promise in front of goal and off the ball, his technical qualities must improve. The 23-year-old is often caught holding onto possession for too long, whether that be over complicating a situation or simply making the wrong decision. This, combined with a shaky passing ability, must improve quickly if Dembele wants to succeed..

For a club like Manchester United or Chelsea, they need a striker who is technically sound. Romelu Lukaku was criticised by fans for his poor touch, while Tammy Abraham has come under fire this season for similar inconsistencies. If Dembele is to move to the Premier League, his play on the ball must sharpen up.

Dembele in the Champions League, 2019 | PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images

While he isn’t quite the finished product just yet, and is playing in a league which has become known for its poor level of football, Dembele is still a more than competent striker and should be on the radar of a number of top clubs. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal could well do with his services to bring serious competition among the ranks, provided that he can adapt to the pace of the Premier League.

Depending on the price paid and the time given to him to learn and play regularly, Moussa Dembele might just prove to be the perfect bit of business for a big club this summer.


EFL Confirm 9 Positive Coronavirus Tests From Latest Batch of Championship Testing

The EFL have confirmed that there have been nine new positive tests for coronavirus come back from the latest round of testing at clubs.

One of the rules to allow English football leagues to resume their 2019/20 seasons has been frequent testing, something that began in the Premier League and has followed through into the lower leagues as clubs prepare for football’s return.

Tottenham were the latest top flight club to have one of their tests come back positive, and now in the Championship, following tests taken by 1094 club and playing staff, nine have come back with a positive diagnosis. The EFL confirmed this on a statement issued on their official website.

The statement read: “Following the latest round of COVID-19 testing, the EFL can confirm that 1094 players and Club staff from the 24 Championship Clubs were tested over the course of Saturday 30 May, Sunday 31 May, Monday 1 June and Tuesday 2 June with nine individuals testing positive from six Clubs.

“Those players or Club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL and only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities.”

It was also confirmed that while no testing has taken place in League One, four clubs tested from League Two – a total of 126 individual tests – were undertaken with no positive results.

The news comes off the back of confirmation that the Championship is to resume the current campaign on 20 June, with the remaining fixtures – nine each – of the 24 clubs to happen within a one-month period prior to the play-off fixtures

This sudden spike in positive results will be of concern, as the previous round revealed three confirmed cases from two different clubs.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!


Jorge Campos: The Wildly Dressed Mexican Goalkeeper Who Scored Goals for Fun

Jorge Campos
Jorge Campos | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Goalkeeping in the 1990s was a bit weird. And Jorge Campos is exactly why this weirdness was so spectacular.

Peter Schmeichel, Oliver Kahn and David Seaman earmarked themselves as some of football’s greatest goalkeepers throughout the decade, with their breathtaking performances becoming key to their respective sides’ successes. While they felt revolutionary with their expansive and aggressive play style in Europe, this was absolutely nothing in comparison to the antics going on across the pond.

The likes of Rene Higuita, Jose Luis Chilavert and Jorge Campos were in North and South America, ignoring all key principles of what it meant to be a goalkeeper, were busy finding how to innovate the position in the most unique ways possible. It wasn’t uncommon to see them retrieve the ball and take on the opposition with audacious dribbles up the pitch, or operate outside of their area for most of a game.

Rene Higuita and Roger MillaRene Higuita and Roger Milla
Rene Higuita and Roger Milla | STAFF/Getty Images

While Higuita was pulling off ridiculous scorpion kicks and Chilavert was scoring hat-tricks of penalties, Mexican international Campos was forging his own, unique legacy. Arguably the most impressive of all.

Born in Acapulco, Campos signed with Mexican side UNAM in 1988 as a goalkeeper, despite playing as a striker throughout his youth and wanting to make a career as a forward. With UNAM already having a first choice goalkeeper, Campos played second fiddle, but asked to be deployed as a striker in a bid for more regular game time instead of rotting away on the bench.

A unique request for a young goalkeeper, but it was one that paid off. Campos 14 goals in his debut season with the Mexican side, tussling for league top scorer despite just missing out. Before long, though, Campos was moved down to the back of the field as he became first choice keeper in the 1990/91 campaign. UNAM would win the league that season, and Campos – standing in at just five foot six – quickly became one of the game’s most unique and technically proficient players.

His agility and speed, combined with his understanding of the game, is ultimately what allowed Campos to be a success in two completely opposite positions. Many had doubts over him as a goalkeeper, but what he lacked in height, he made up for with incredible reflexes and an innovative, attacking style that saw him charge down attackers when they least expected it.

Jorge CamposJorge Campos
Jorge Campos | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Before long, ‘El Brody’ became a star. His erratic style and versatility was a spectacle to watch, and was heightened by seeing him play in such wild jerseys. Designed by himself, Campos would wear brightly-coloured goalkeeper shirts, filled with designs that he says were inspired by his hometown.

After playing with UNAM until 1995, Campos transferred to fellow Mexican side Atlante where he played for one season. It was with Atlante, however, that Campos scored arguably his most famous goal ever. In a match versus Cruz Azul, Campos had started in goal, but his side were struggling to find an equaliser. Rather than Atlante’s manager sending on another striker, the backup keeper was subbed on and Campos moved up front.

The decision was a risk, but it was met with reward. Campos scored in spectacular fashion, poking home a bicycle kick goal from a cross to make it 1-1. A complete summary of his immensely eccentric career.

While the Mexican never made it across the Atlantic, he still enjoyed fine success and forced his way to the top of the footballing ladder. He signed with LA Galaxy in 1996 ahead of the inaugural MLS season and became one of the league’s first high-profile, foreign signings. He was immediately a cult figure due to his on-field antics, which saw his popularity sky-rocket even more. After 49 appearances for the Galaxy, he would move to Chicago Fire, but returned to Mexico with UNAM in 1998 after struggling for regular game time.

Jorge CamposJorge Campos
Jorge Campos | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

He impressed on the world stage, too. Despite his height, Campos was ranked the third-best goalkeeper in the world in 1994 by FIFA and enjoyed an excellent career with the Mexico national team, earning 130 caps.

Campos represented a number of clubs throughout his home nation upon his return. And while the goals would unfortunately dry up, his legacy would live on. Another two spells with UNAM and a second spell with Atlante beckoned, before he finished his career with Puebla, retiring in 2004.

Campos was the first Mexican footballer to secure a sponsorship with Nike, and has forever been recognised as one of football’s friendliest faces, on and off the pitch. It’s a shame we never saw him get a crack in Europe, but that doesn’t take anything away from the legacy he’s left in the game worldwide.

His all-or-nothing approach was allowed to flourish in the unrestricted realms of football in the USA and Mexico of the 1990s, and his style has influenced that of the modern goalkeeper today, where being a sweeper-keeper has become essential.

While it’s easy to remember Jorge Campos for his outrageous bespoke jerseys, that were somehow short-sleeve and long-sleeve simultaneously, we must also respect his impact on the game as one of the best goalkeepers and most complete, pure footballers ever to do it.