Byline: Luke Edwards
DAVID Edgar had a dream. David Edgar wanted to be a professional footballer. David Edgar's parents thought he was mad. David Edgar's parents wanted him to play ice hockey.
Like most young Canadians, Edgar loved his country's national sport - which spawned such heroes as Wayne Gretzky - but he was in love with football, a minority sport which is not taken seriously in the land of the Maple leaf.
But Edgar was persistent and stubborn. His father Eddie had played professional football, including a single appearance for Newcastle United in the seventies, and his son wanted to emulate him.
When he was nine, Eddie, who runs a programme designed to give Canadian footballers the chance to play in Europe, took him to see Celtic, Manchester United and Newcastle train.
David was hooked, but the family would not leave their Canadian home in Kitchener, Ontario, and instead Eddie trained him - making him run for more than a kilometre to and from his indoor soccer school so that he could train for 40 minutes in his lunch hour
Through wind, rain and snow he trained until his father, encouraged by his son's determination as well as his talent, finally agreed to allow him to move to England.
"I always thought he was a better hockey player than he is a footballer," said Eddie, who was at St James's Park on Monday night to see his son score a dramatic equaliser against Manchester United. "I expected him to go into hockey.
But at 13 he told us he wanted to concentrate on football - but Canada is probably the worst country in the world for that. The development is horrendous.
"You have amateur coaches, amateur organisers and amateur leagues. So when he told me he wanted to play soccer, I didn't know what to do."
In the end, there was not much else he could do. His son was showing signs of promise and was adamant he wanted to play football.
So, at 14, he moved to England to live with his grandmother in Newcastle, where he was, with his father's help, spotted by scouts from Newcastle's Academy. "There were dozens of tearful phone calls," said his mother Christine. "It was very difficult because he's still my baby,"
But through the homesickness and tears, Edgar blossomed at Newcastle and, long before his debut on Boxing Day against Bolton, senior team-mates had singled him out as a player to watch for the future.
Glenn Roeder, who coached the 19-year-old when he was in charge of the Academy, had also seen signs that he could play in the Premiership, although he never thought he would have to so quickly.
In football, as in life, it is those who make the most of the opportunities which come their way who succeed and, as Roeder struggled with injuries to his senior squad, the kids have been given their chance far earlier than he envisaged. …