Don't expect any somersaults if Kazenga LuaLua turns over Newcastle

Brighton winger has too much respect for his old club – and the acrobatic celebrations are banned

Kazenga LuaLua's departure from Newcastle United 13 months ago caused far fewer ripples on Tyneside than that of Demba Ba this week. Today, LuaLua will hope to make a bigger impression on his former club by helping Brighton knock them out of the FA Cup for the second season in succession.

LuaLua was injured when Newcastle lost 1-0 at the Amex Stadium last season, but after more fitness problems and a loss of form, he has forced his way into the Brighton team and is looking forward to reminding Toon fans of his footballing abilities, rather than an incident off the field.

The Kinshasa-born 22-year-old left Newcastle on a permanent transfer after spending three separate spells on loan with Brighton, but remained in the news in the city after being charged with affray over an incident outside the Riverside nightclub in June 2011.

In November a jury at Newcastle crown court was discharged after failing to reach a verdict. A retrial has been set for June, leaving the winger free to complete the season, even if Brighton reach the play-off final.

His form blossomed as a result. "It's been a very tough season for me, with many things off the field as well," he said.

"It's just good to get back in the team and try to play well, which I think I'm doing at the moment. When I made the decision to leave Newcastle it wasn't just about football. I thought my choice was good and my family was happy with it as well.

"Obviously they knew I used to go out with my friends then come back at stupid times. I don't do that any more. I've settled down. If you ask any players they'll say Newcastle is a party town and everybody knows everybody. That's probably why Demba Ba left, because of parties," LuaLua said.

Whether Ba, a family man and Muslim, would agree is uncertain, but the Brighton manager, Gustavo Poyet, is relieved that LuaLua's mind is more settled. "There was an issue away from football which, because of his personality, was a problem for him," Poyet said. "Until he got clear from the court case, he was not the same person."

LuaLua was living with his elder brother, Lomana, the former Newcastle, Portsmouth and Blackpool striker, when he was offered a trial at St James' Park.

"I was just in a local team in Newcastle then, Wallsend Town. I was at home playing on my PlayStation and my brother came back from training and said: 'Get your stuff, you're going on trial for Newcastle'."

Kazenga LuaLua worked his way up through the youth ranks but never made a league start for the club before he moved to Brighton, where he has become a fan favourite for his explosive wing play and powerful shooting.

"You can ask Mauricio Taricco, who's a full-back, if he wants to play 90 minutes against him," said Poyet, referring to his assistant manager.

LuaLua said: "I was at Newcastle for five or six years, which was like a dream for me because it is a massive club but I don't think I got a chance and that's the time to think about leaving. I think I made the right choice. "I had a good time in Newcastle and it's always disappointing when you leave a team but you have to think about your future and your career."

Now he hopes to prove that he had more to offer than Toon fans were able to see, but if he scores they will not witness the somersault goal celebration, banned by Brighton's club doctor. "I don't think I'll celebrate anyway if I score because Newcastle are the team that gave me my professional contract," he said.

"Playing against a Premier League team, it won't be easy. They've got injuries, they're struggling and not winning so many games, and we've just started winning games. We beat Newcastle and Sunderland [in the League Cup] last season, so why not again?"

Suggested Topics
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test