Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: French Exile over for Magpies Star

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: French Exile over for Magpies Star

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Gilder

CHARLES N'Zogbia is relishing the chance to make up for lost time in Malta this evening after admitting he feared a contentious move to Newcastle had cost him a promising international career.

The in-form Frenchman is expected to win his second Under-21 cap in tonight's European Championship qualifier in Valletta having impressed during a belated debut against Wales last week.

Having represented France at Under-16s level prior to his controversial transfer to St James's Park in 2004, N'Zogbia was overlooked for Les Bleus selection for three years that he has described as 'upsetting'.

That he feels the circumstances in which he departed Le Havre were responsible is clear, the 21-year-old having claimed he was ostracised as a punishment for leaving Stade Jules Deschaseaux to pursue a career in the Premier League.

The French club insisted the player had broken a contract in order to move to Tyneside and pursued a protracted legal case that ended this summer when the Court of Arbitration for Sport ordered Newcastle and N'Zogbia to make a pounds 600,000 compensation payment.

Yet N'Zogbia feared the price could be even higher - with the versatile left-sider having suggested that Le Havre officials persuaded the French Football Federation not to consider him for selection while the dispute rumbled on.

"Le Havre wasted two or three years for me, preventing me from playing with the national teams," said a player who has started the Premier League campaign in fine form under Sam Allardyce's guidance. "But it just made me stronger.

"I had no contact from France and I was upset about it. But the people at Newcastle reassured me and told me the call would come. I was so pleased when that proved to be the case."

It is perhaps no coincidence that N'Zogbia's selection came just two months after the court verdict that left him with a pounds 400,000 bill to foot. National coach Rene Girard had been keen to cap the Gallowgate favourite last summer, but, with the FFF involved with Le Havre and Newcastle in a protracted dispute, the politics meant N'Zogbia was forced to wait. …

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