Paul Dummett on going from being told he wouldn't make it at 16 to becoming a Newcastle United mainstay

Dummett was told he wouldn't make it at Newcastle by Alan Pardew

Martin Hardy@mhardysport
Friday 26 January 2018 19:07
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Dummett played more than anyone else last season
Dummett played more than anyone else last season

There had already been doubt, even before Paul Dummett was told he wouldn’t make it by Alan Pardew and decided to go on loan to non-league Gateshead.

He was 20 then and admits he was never one of the rising superstars in Newcastle United’s academy, despite having joined the club when he was just eight years old. Dummett was the dark horse who went to the sixth tier of English football to learn his trade in 2012. Then came the mocking.

“I have friends now who I played with at Newcastle and when I went to Gateshead they laughed at me and said, ‘What have you gone there for?’” he reveals. “They never did that at all and now they don’t play football anymore.

“Whether they had more ability than me or not - and there were players who had more ability than me when I was younger - the determination I had to show and the commitment I had to show to get to the first team was something that some players might not have had.

“There were players more highly thought of than me. James Tavernier was one, who is at Rangers now. Brad Inman (now at Rochdale) was another. Phil Airey got a lot of headlines. I don’t think he’s playing anymore.

“In general I don’t think - and the coaches will probably tell you that as well - they’d ever say they would look at me and say I was one who was going to play in the first team.”

That same conversation followed with Pardew.

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“I got told I wasn’t good enough by him,” he adds. “I was a bit concerned at the time when I left his office. In my head I knew that I just wanted the best chance I could and if it wasn’t at Newcastle. I told him I would prove him wrong. He knew then my attitude was right. I had gone out on loan and kept going. He was the one who ultimately gave me the chance in the Premier League.

“I don’t know if he did it to motivate me but he said: ‘That’s the attitude I want to see from my players’. I think he said it to other players as well and it didn’t end up happening for them. I think you have to be good enough at the time and lucky enough to get the chance.”

It has never been easy for Dummett, the last Geordie standing.

“I was eight years old when I joined Newcastle,” he says. “I don’t think you ever really believe you’re going to be a professional footballer until it actually happens. Going through the ages, once I got to 15 or 16 I thought I was going to be released.

Dummett had a spell on loan at St Mirren

“It’s the impression you get from coaches but I was never one of the main players in the team. There was always players talked about more than me.

“I sat down with my family and my dad had heard other players were going to get released and I felt I maybe would too. I had to keep going, believing and I went out on loan to St Mirren and even then I thought I would get released after that. I thought I would be playing football for someone else and not Newcastle. I got another one year contract, I stayed and two games into the season against Liverpool I found out I was getting another contract. That totally changed my life and my career.”

He ended up being trusted by Pardew, and then John Carver, then Steve McClaren and he has been a mainstay since Rafa Benitez took over at St James’ Park. No player played more last season. It also feels like he has finally won his battle to convince sections of the Newcastle support that, at 26, he is a quality, Premier League player.

Dummett has been a mainstay in Newcastle's side for years

“There’s definitely added pressure because my family are Newcastle fans and I’m surrounded by Newcastle fans wherever I go,” says Dummett. “My friends are Newcastle fans too. It’s different for me compared to some lads who are here but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I guess it is harder for me because I can never get away from the fact I am from Newcastle and I play for the club. The pressure is on me really.”

Absence has made the heart grow fonder. Dummett felt his hamstring go in the first half of the first game of the current season, against Tottenham.

“I never want to be injured for that length of time but if you can get that extra bit of appreciation when you have been injured then that’s great,” he says. “I have had that the last few games. The criticism will return if the performances don’t stay. I have to keep playing well and hopefully the praise keeps coming.”

His father, a season ticket holder at St James’ Park, was on the side of the pitch when Newcastle won the Championship in dramatic style last May. Paul was at the Millennium Stadium in 2005 as a supporter when Newcastle last reached the semi-final of the FA Cup.

There has been precious little joy in the old competition since, but ahead of Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge he said: “I want to go on a run and create that sort of feeling.”

No one would begrudge Dummett a bit of glory.

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