PAUL Dummett admits he’s pinching himself after breaking through at Newcastle United – and training alongside the world’s most expensive footballer.
Dummett has established himself in the club’s first-team squad in the first few weeks of this season.
And the defender – who turned 22 yesterday – was also selected for Wales earlier this month.
Dummett caught the eye in pre-season, and has since gone on to make four appearance for Newcastle, most recently in Wednesday night’s 2-0 Capital One Cup win over Leeds United.
The left back spent the bulk of last season on loan at St Mirren.
He has returned a better player for the experience north of the border, and United manager Alan Pardew feels he’s ready to challenge first-choice Davide Santon for a place in his team.
Newcastle-born Dummett’s progress for his club earned him a senior call-up for his country, an experience the down to earth player admits was “surreal” given the furore over Bale’s move to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur.
“It was a really good experience,” Dummett said.
“It was incredible really. One minute I was watching Sky, and he was training with Ronaldo, the next he was training alongside me!
“It was a surreal and weird experience to be training with the best in the world, but it can only hold me in good stead.
“I was training with Gareth Bale, Craig Bellamy and Aaron Ramsey so it was training with all of the top players. Bellers was at Newcastle when I was a youngster.
“The others speak for themselves of course. It was just a great experience to train with them every day.
“They said when I went there that it was a good time to meet the players, get to know them and get used to being around them.
“You are trying to get used to training in that environment. If I get picked again, I know the players, so it gives me a look in.”
Bale has remained grounded despite his footballing rise, and the 24-year-old is a role model for Dummett.
“He’s a down to earth guy, and didn’t come across as big headed at all,” he said.
“In fact he was quite quiet. He was a really nice lad.
“He’s a left footed player and was a left back at one stage.
“He turned himself into a left or right sided midfielder who scores a lot of goals and is now playing for Real Madrid.
“I don’t know if that will happen to me, but he’s certainly a player that everybody should look up to, especially when he’s the most expensive in the world.”
Dummett’s performance against Leeds underlined his recent progress on the pitch, and he could be involved against Everton at Goodison Park on Monday night.
For his part, Dummett is hopeful United – who beat Aston Villa in their last away outing – can take something from the fixture.
“There have been some good performances,” he said.
“Hatem Ben Arfa’s played well and the team has defended well.
“We just want to continue having good performances away from home.
“We have to go game by game. If we put in the best performances, we can.”
Pardew praised the performances of Dummett and his fellow Academy graduate Sammy Ameobi, who set up both Newcastle’s goals.
And he will give the pair every encouragement over the coming weeks and months.
“There’s nothing more we want than to have a local player in the team,” said Pardew.