Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baptism of Fire for Derby Day Jenas

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baptism of Fire for Derby Day Jenas

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Jermaine Jenas was thrown straight into the Lion's den for his Newcastle debut. He reminisced with Luke Edwards and explained why he is desperate to do it all over again this weekend.

His first few days as a Newcastle player could have been spent gently acclimatising to his new surroundings, but Jermaine Jenas's first game in a black and white shirt was an altogether more dramatic affair.

The teenager was clearly highly rated by Sir Bobby Robson and his coaching staff. After all, you do not spend more than five million pound's of your chairman's money in a depressed transfer market if you doubt a player's ability to make it in the top tier.

But when Jenas became the second most expensive teenager in English football in February 2002, it was widely assumed he had been plucked from the Nationwide League because of his potential.

At 18, Jenas had already forged a reputation for himself as one of the most talented young midfielders in the country with Nottingham Forest, having graduated to the first-team from its impressive youth system a year earlier.

But when Robson sat proudly next to his latest young protege at a press conference to announce his arrival, the wily coach insisted time and time again that he saw Jenas not only as a player for the future, but one who could make his presence felt in the first-team straight away.

He was as good as his word too. Newcastle's next game was against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, a derby game few others match in terms of passion and pride.

And it was into this cauldron of tribal tensions that Robson threw Jenas into for his debut at a time when he was still trying to memorise the names of his new team-mates, as well as the way back to his hotel room from the club's training ground.

"It all happened very quickly," says Jenas, who had always maintained he was happy to stay at Forest if the club chose not to sell him. …

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