At the beginning of the week, I was lucky enough to speak to former Denmark and Newcastle United striker, Peter Lovenkrands. Agreeing to take part in an interview for The Spectator’s View, Peter answered a few of my questions regarding his time at Newcastle, what he thinks of the coming season, and also his hopes for the future.
Fan favorite, Lovenkrands, become somewhat of a cult hero at Newcastle during his three years at the club, and has always been welcomed back with open arms by fans and players alike.
While Newcastle United has, over the past few decades, seemed to court controversy in nearly every aspect of its operations, the Danish striker always seemed to understand the fans and, more importantly perhaps, knew exactly where Newcastle’s natural place was in the greater scheme of things.
His openness about his love for the club, the fans and, indeed, the city itself has quite rightly marked him out as one of Newcastle’s most fondly adopted Geordies, and it is of little surprise that even today, Newcastle fans far and wide will talk of Peter Lovenkrands with such nostalgia. He stands alongside a select group of players, the likes of Nolberto Solano, Jonas Gutierrez Tino Asprilla, and Kevin Nolan, all of whom gave so much for the club in spite of their foreignness to Newcastle. They just got it.
Lovenkrands touched the lives of so many Newcastle fans and, in many ways, as he will often emphasise in interviews, the city and the football club had a profound effect on him. So much is obvious just in his hybridised Geordie-Glaswegian dialect.
Peter first arrived at the club at the midway point of that infamous 08/09 season, a campaign which will be remembered by fans for all the wrong reasons. Following a catastrophic 9 months, 18 league losses, and three unsuccessful managers (Keegan, Kinnear and Shearer), Newcastle slipped out of the top flight for the first time in 16 years.
When his contract expired at the end of the season, it appeared that Lovenkrands’ love affair with Newcastle was set to be nothing more than a fling. Nonetheless, to the fans delight, within two months, he had re-joined the club, rejuvenated by an up-and-coming Chris Hughton, and had a fantastic season, bagging an impressive total of 16 goals in 32 appearances.
So, Peter knows exactly what it takes to win a league such as the Championship – he’s been there, done that, and got the t shirt (quite literally – see above) – and here, he tries to impart some insight into what the players should expect this season.
HS: What was your favourite all-time moment in a Newcastle Shirt?
PL: It would without doubt have to be my goal against West Brom (18th January 2010), scoring just 3 days after my dad had passed away. I had scored a hattrick in the game prior to West Brom (Plymouth in the FA Cup) and, later that week, following the news of my dad’s passing, I returned home to Denmark for a few days.
I arrived back in Newcastle the day of the game, and Chris pulled me into his office. He asked me how I felt, and told me that if I was feeling okay, he wanted to start me. I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play on, so I agreed to start. None of my teammates expected to see me at the game, or even to be back in Newcastle, and so when I walked into the dressing room, they were all very surprised but incredibly supportive.
After I scored [a headed equaliser in the 54th minute], I can’t describe the feeling that went through my body, but it was incredible. I just couldn’t hold back the tears. All the boys huddled round me and told me that my dad would be looking down on me right now, and would be proud of me. It was all so emotional. And then came the cheer from the fans… my name roared throughout the stadium, it was so loud,. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had as a footballer, and I honestly cannot thank the supporters enough for getting behind me that day, and making that goal the tribute that my dad deserved.
You can see that special goal from 1:04-1:18 on the video below:
Thank you to SewellyTV for the goal compilation video.
HS: Did you have any pre-game / post-game superstitions as a player?
PL: Just the one – and it’s pretty weird. I always put my left shin-pad on before my right, my left sock before my right and then my left boot before my right. I hadno particular reason for doing this, but for some reason I always did my left leg before my right.
HS: Who was the best player you played with at Newcastle?
PL: It’s got to be two players for me: Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa. Cabaye was one of the most talented players Newcastle have had in recent years, and his record at Newcastle speaks for itself. Ben Arfa had a magical way about him: technically, he was something else, and he could turn the game just like that.
HS: Where do you think Newcastle went wrong last season, and how do you think we’ll do this season under Rafa?
PL: I think, with last season, we waited far too long in bringing Rafa in. Had a change been made earlier, we may well have stayed up.
Next season, the Championship will offer a new type of challenge for us, and something that must not be underestimated. That said, I think we have enough quality in the side to get promoted, and I look forward to following them all the way next season.
HS: Do you have any advice for the players this year playing in the Championship?
PL: My main advice would be, the players need to be prepared for a very hard season, as the Championship is a very tough league. With the influx of new money into English football, and with nearly every team in the top two flights of English football spending a lot more these days, the team will have to be sure not to underestimate any side.
HS: If you were the manager, what would you do about Sissoko and Wijnaldum?
PL: I know a lot of people have made up their own mind about that matter, but my personal opinion is that we should do everything possible to keep Sissoko and Wijnaldum. There is no denying that they are among the best players in the squad and, naturally, it’s important to try and keep your best players. So, for me, I think we should be doing everything we can to keep them at the club.
HS: What do you think the strengths are in the current squad?
PL: I think we will be very strong going forward. For a first season in English football, I think Mitrovic performed very well, and looks a promising player. Dwight Gayle looks like a great buy, and with Armstrong returning to the club, we have a youthful attack which could cause a lot of problems in the Championship.
HS: Finally, what are your future plans in football? Would you ever consider returning to Newcastle in some capacity?
PL: I am doing a bit of commentating for Danish TV on the Premier League, and I am commentating occasionally for Rangers TV as well.
I have obtained my UEFA coaching B Licence and have just started my A Licence. So, the answer is, yes. If I was offered the chance to some coaching at Newcastle, I would be there in a heartbeat.
I would like to personally thank Peter very much for agreeing to speak to us about his time at Newcastle and his thoughts on the current situation.
For me, it was a great honour interviewing a man who embodies everything that I believe makes Newcastle United so special. Every time he stepped out onto that pitch at St. James’, he would give his absolute all for that historic badge, and that’s something which has perhaps been lacking in recent years.
Hopefully, by this time next year, there’ll be many parallels we can draw between this campaign and that proud and, in all honesty, thoroughly enjoyable 09/10 campaign which Peter starred in.
Rafa and Ashley have given us great reason to be excited about this forthcoming season, we’ve conducted what looks to be very shrewd business in the window and I, for one, am very positive about our chances going forward.
Please do let us know what you think in the comment section below!