Aleksandar Mitrovic says he was “angry” at being dropped by Steve McClaren – and was determined to hit back on the pitch.
The striker came off the bench to score Newcastle United’s equaliser in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Mitrovic, signed in the summer from Anderlecht, had been axed by head coach McClaren after the club’s home defeat to Leicester City last month.
The 21-year-old didn’t make it off the bench against Liverpool and Crystal Palace, with McClaren believing he had been affected by a “bad time” on international duty with Serbia.
Mitrovic was reportedly involved in a bust-up with a team-mate after a 4-1 defeat to Czech Republic last month.
“I was angry because I spent two games on the bench – and I wanted to show that I deserved to play,” he said.
Mitrovic was sent on in the 72nd minute at White Hart Lane with Newcastle trailing to a first-half Eric Dier goal, and he netted less than two months after making it on to the pitch.
He scrambled the ball over the line to set up a dramatic finale.
Ayoze Perez, Mitrovic’s fellow substitute, claimed all three points with a stoppage-time strike.
Mitrovic was unhappy at being left out of the starting XI, but he kept his counsel out of “respect” for Papiss Cisse – and let his feet do the talking when he got the chance.
“I didn’t say anything because I respect Papiss Cisse,” he said. He played really well the last two weeks, and he scored against Palace.
“I respect the coach, so I didn’t say anything. I waited for my moment, and it came. It is hard for anyone to be on the bench, but I worked hard and waited for my moment.
“Every game I want to prove myself and I was concentrating on trying to score goals.
“I scored against Man City and against Norwich, and it’s the best feeling when you score and when you win in the last minute.”
Asked about his decision to drop Mitrovic before the Tottenham match, McClaren said: “It was generally viewed that during the international break he kind of had a bad time with Serbia.
“It looked as if he needed to come out of it.”
The Tottenham victory followed an equally remarkable, and unexpected, 2-0 success over Liverpool at St James’s Park.