Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Papiss Happy to Be Playing with a Smile on His Face; THE INTERVIEW: PAPISS CISSE Papiss Cisse Is a Breath of Fresh Air from Your Average Premier League Striker. Chief Sports Writer Mark Douglas Talks to a Striker Who Has His Mojo Back

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Papiss Happy to Be Playing with a Smile on His Face; THE INTERVIEW: PAPISS CISSE Papiss Cisse Is a Breath of Fresh Air from Your Average Premier League Striker. Chief Sports Writer Mark Douglas Talks to a Striker Who Has His Mojo Back

Article excerpt

A BROAD smile spreads across Papiss Cisse's face as he recounts the best goal he never scored.

"Luckily I have always been able to score these (remarkable) goals. There is famous story from when I was growing up," he says at the end of an interview with Newcastle United's reborn forward which is enjoyable, illuminating and uplifting.

"I was 16 and I was playing for my district in Senegal in a local tournament against some of our local rivals.

"It was a big derby and everyone knew about it.

"I took a free-kick about 30 yards from goal, rolled the ball to my teammate and he passed it back to me and I hit a powerful strike.

"The goalkeeper tried to catch the ball but it was hit so hard he ending up falling into the net with it.

"The nets back home are not well held down like they are over here and the whole thing collapsed and the ball ending up flying out of the net.

"The ref thought that because he had not seen the ball go into the net it wasn't a goal and he didn't give the goal, which I couldn't believe!

"It was a semi-final against our big local rivals so it was quite an important match, but luckily someone had filmed the whole thing so everyone could clearly see the ball had gone in.

"The referee became quite notorious and right up until this day he has not been allowed to ref another match."

Cisse then cracks into laughter at the memory, his stomach knotting with mirth at the image he has just described.

His boyish charm is both a refreshing antidote to the jaded cynicism which often comes from Premier League footballers and a justified reaction to a feat which belongs in the comic books of yore.

For those of us who grew up flicking through Roy of the Rovers comics, it is reminiscent of Hot Shot Hamish - the giant Hebridean striker with the world's most powerful shot.

He used to break nets too. Only Cisse is for real, scoring goals which are a flight of fantasy to other forwards.

His stupendous strike against Southampton is only third in his list of all-time great strikes - and it is relegated to fourth when he is reminded of the breathtaking long-range header he scored for Senegal against Ivory Coast earlier this season.

The way he talks about scoring offers some insight on what makes him slightly different from your average striker.

While young forwards are taught about muscle memory and rigorously put through their paces to implicitly instil ideas about trajectory, angles and power into their game, Cisse is more emotional about his football.

His description of what it feels like to score is instructive.

He added: "To be honest any goal no matter how great or bad it is, is the best feeling in football.

"There is a feeling which just explodes inside you and it is the very best thing you can do in the game.

"Since I scored that goal the main feeling when you see the ball hitting the net is relief combined with happiness. …

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