I’m probably in the minority when I say that Shefki should get more than 3 minute cameos here and there, but I was also in the minority when I backed Leon Best and look how he turned out for us. Of course, the 34 year old Finn doesn’t exactly have age on his side but he made more of an impact in front of goal in his 5 minutes on the pitch at Villa Park than young Nile Ranger made all game.
After being haunted by the turmoil of his youth and later seeing a tragedy strike his close friend, and fellow footballer, Besian Idrizaj who unfortunately passed away aged 22 after a heart attack. Kuqi’s face is weathered by age and experience, but the question still remains: can he do the Newcastle United shirt a service?
Alan Pardew has mentioned that Kuqi’s personality would be perfect to wear the famous number 9 but also concedes age and lack of ability would ensure he never wears the famous shirt and to an extent, I agree. Shefki Kuqi has spent most of his footballing life in the Championship with occasional spells in the Premier League and he has never and will never set the footballing world on fire.
Let’s backtrack a bit. What is ‘doing a job’ to a fan of Newcastle United? Usually it refers to fringe players who simply can’t hold down a place in the starting XI and sometimes those players impress us. Leon Best was a fringe player until he showed us all what he is capable of doing and reminded us that sometimes, a striker can be onside, even when the linesman thinks he’s not.
Kuqi is a Leon Best-esque character and make no mistake. Neither players are likely to dribble the length of the pitch and delicately chip the ball over the keeper, but both know where the net is and know where they need to be to slot the ball home by any means necessary.
He also adds a very different style of play to our game; the man is an absolute battering ram. He bullies defenders and forces mistakes, opening up the goal for whichever tired legs have the strength to take on that shot. Think of how a certain number 9 used to do it and you’ll see what I mean, only Kuqi is a bit more clever about his game.
After everything that the Yugoslavian born player has been through, he can carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and has proved it. The fact is, it doesn’t matter what number he wears – to us a player wearing the number worn by Alan Shearer, Jackie Milburn and countless others is the biggest testimony and honour to a players ability, but to Shefki, simply playing for Newcastle is honour enough.
The future at Newcastle United may indeed be bright with the likes of Dan Gosling, Hatem Ben Arfa and Europe’s once top talent Haris Vuckic all preparing for first team action but when Shefki decides his playing days are over and his boots are long since hung up, I wouldn’t mind him in a coaching position if that’s his desire. Much like Sol Campbell, he has enough experience in the game to direct the youngsters and he has already been supposedly working his magic with some of the younger lads with a guiding hand and some friendly words.
A player of his age and experience can only do good things behind the scenes and I’m sure that will continue until his contract runs out in the summer.
Can he pop up in the last 5 games with a goal or two? Of course he can, if he’s given the time to settle into the flow of the game and if he doesn’t make the impact he probably dreams of at the Cathedral on the Hill? Well, he always has a budding career in the music industry.