Last Thursday, Papiss Demba Cissé arrived in the North-east of England for the second time in his life. The following day, he was looking for a house. Come Sunday afternoon, at around three o'clock, he had a new home: St James' Park.
He drew a particularly pertinent piece of praise from his manager, Alan Pardew. "He is a genuine guy," he said. "He hasn't come here with any other agenda than to do well for us and he has had a great start."
After his match-winning debut as a substitute, scoring in the 71st minute to defeat Aston Villa, Cissé was relatively nonplussed. In a corridor at St James' Park, he spoke to a journalist through an interpreter, Olivier Bernard, the former Newcastle left-back. His English is not good but humility translates into any language.
Ten yards away, Demba Ba, his fellow Senegalese team-mate, was revealing his own part in how Cissé left Freiburg and followed him to Newcastle. "He talked to me before he signed a little bit," said Ba. "I just said, 'Go on, sign.' He asked everything about Newcastle – how were the supporters, how was the club?
"I've not told him everything because I want him to see for himself what it is like here. I have told him everything about the No 9 shirt but I have also said it is just a number. He is a very quiet guy. All the fuss and hype will not affect him."
Cissé was 17 when he arrived in France, with Metz. Loan spells followed with Cherbourg and Chateauroux. For all three clubs he scored regularly, attracting the attention of SC Freiburg when he scored against them for Metz in a friendly. The Bundesliga side tried to sign him immediately but failed. Eventually, in December 2009, they got their man, paying £1.3m. Cissé would go on to break Tony Yeboah's record in Germany for the most goals in a season by an African player. He would also break Freiburg's record for most goals in a single campaign, with 22 league goals in 2010-11.
Newcastle wanted Cissé in the summer.They waited and were surprised and delighted when the door opened in January at a price that could eventually be £9m.
After his goal on Sunday, Cissé went into the Newcastle dressing room and shook the hand of everybody, players, back-room staff and the kitman. "The aim from now is to keep working hard in training," he said. "If I do that I would like to think that I can get more goals like that. I'm happy with my first goal, but I have a lot of thank yous to give out. Firstly the club for signing me, my team-mates and to all of the fans who made it so memorable."Reuse content