Newcastle Utd’s Gael eyes Champions League spot

Gael Bigirimana
Gael Bigirimana

GAEL Bigirimana told of his joy after making his Newcastle United debut – then set his sights on helping the club into the Champions League.

Bigirimana made his first competitive appearance for the club in Thursday night’s 1-1 draw against Greek club Atromitos.

The teenager, signed from Coventry City in the summer, lined up as a deep-lying midfield player alongside fellow summer signing Vurnon Anita.

And Bigirimana, in the squad for this evening’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, loved every minute on the pitch at the Peristeri Stadium in Athens.

“It was a really good debut for me – it was a good result,” Bigirimana said.

“Hopefully, we can play them at home now and go through. It was a great day for me. I really enjoyed it.

“In games like this, you can’t take anything for granted. You’ve got to get a win, or a draw if it’s an away game.

“It was a great result. Even if we go to St James’s Park, and it’s one of those days and we draw 0-0, we go through.

“But we should definitely go there to get a win.”

This time last year, Bigirimana was still to play in the Championship with Coventry.

The 18-year-old’s footballing journey is as remarkable as that he and his family have made outside the game, Bigirimana having fled war-torn Burundi with his mother eight years ago, eventually to settle in England.

And the ambitious player is determined to make the most of his chance at United, who he hopes can again compete for a top four place in the Premier League this season.

“I’m just grateful to be here,” he added. “Who knows what the next year could bring? Maybe Champions League!

“You never know. You just always make sure you train hard and take every step.”