TEENAGER Gael Bigirimana’s confident he’s got the physical and mental strength to make an early impression in the Premier League.
The midfielder joined the club in the summer from Coventry City as one for the future.
However, he has already made three appearances for the Newcastle.
And Bigirimana impressed on his league debut in the weekend’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
He came off the bench late in the first half after Danny Simpson suffered an injury, and
Bigirimana, a fierce competitor, showed his range of passing, and made one perfectly-timed tackle to stop a goal-bound Gabriel Agbonlahor in his tracks.
The 18-year-old fled war-torn Burundi as a child, eventually settling in England.
And Bigirimana credits his background as equipping him for whatever his burgeoning football career throws at him.
Kept grounded by his family and his faith, Bigirimana is relishing the opportunity he has in front of him at St James’s Park.
“It has made me stronger,” Bigirimana said.
“When you go through bad times, your character starts to show.
“It’s happened in the past, and it makes you stronger mentally as well.
“For me to be here now seems like it’s written, though. It was meant to happen.
“It makes me ready for this move. Everybody at Coventry was like family to me. That’s my home, and where I grew up.
“It made me the person I am today, and I respect them all.
“It is big thanks to them, and they’ll be there for the rest of my life.
“I’m playing at the highest level that you should play. To see these guys around, and to play with them, is like a an education.
“You must learn every day. It gives you the chance of adding to you knowledge.
“My family always support me and tell me to work hard, and if you do, nothing can stand in your way.”
United manager Alan Pardew had no qualms about throwing Bigirimana on against Villa, despite his tender age.
“He gives you loads of encouragement,” he said.
“He keeps you on your game to make sure you have the high standards.
Bigirimana played as a ball-winning midfielder alongside Yohan Cabaye against Villa, but he’s just as comfortable in a more attacking position.
However, he has no preference to where he plays – as long as he’s on the field.
“I can play as a No10, and I can play on the wing too,” he added.
“But I’ll play wherever I am told.”