Former Newcastle United defender Philippe Albert has told the Belgian media teammates had to hold him back from getting at the referee following a national team defeat to Germany, and if they hadn’t he may never have ended up at St James’ Park.
Belgium were knocked of the 1994 World Cup, and Albert believed the game had been fixed.
Albert has been speaking to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad and was asked about the game with Germany. The former Newcastle United star said after the match he wanted to confront the official because he thought he had a hand in Germany winning, and did think about beating him up. Albert went on to say even now when he speaks about what happened he gets angry.
“After the game four or five players had to stop me. I could not cope with that injustice. I could have beaten him and would have been suspended for years. Even when I talk about it now I feel that anger again,” said the former Newcastle United defender.
Albert spent five seasons at Newcastle United, and became something of a cult legend due to his attack minded style of play. The former Belgium international will be best remembered for chipping Peter Schmeichel from outside the area during Newcastle United’s 5-0 victory over Manchester United at St James’ Park.
However, things could have been different if Albert had assaulted the referee as a suspension would have ruled out his move to England in 1994. It was Albert’s World Cup performances which earned him a move to Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle, and the Belgian went on to be a fan favourite, and also a legend of early fantasy football games… thanks to his goalscoring efforts.
The game that was Albert’s most annoying was the one which led to St James’ Park and the best period of his career, spent with the Geordie faithful: “Kevin Keegan was that day an analyst for the BBC.
In that role, he had also seen the match against the Netherlands. He was looking for a defender for Newcastle who also could contribute something offensively, and saw me score in both matches. My transfer to Newcastle was settled then… The most frustrating game in my career eventually led to the five best years in my life.”
Albert clearly still has a huge fondness for his time at Newcastle United, and he’ll be hoping Rafa Benitez can drag the club back to good times soon. If only Benitez had himself a Philippe Albert!