Moments of Magic #16 – Philippe Albert

by Neil Sherwin

As Newcastle United continue to lead the way in the Championship,  Moments of Magic relives one of the best goals of the club’s recent history.

#16 Philippe Albert v Manchester United, 1996

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United have rarely been on the receiving end of a real hammering during the Scot’s reign, however they were well and truly played off the park when they visited Newcastle United in a top of the table clash during the 1996/97 season.

United had just pipped Newcastle to the title in May after Kevin Keegan’s men had blown a 12 point lead at the top of the table, resulting in one of the most famous on-air rants of all time.

Belgian centre half Philippe Albert came to the attention of Keegan after some excellent performances during the 1994 World Cup, and the Magpies shelled out £2.6 million to secure his signing.

He became an integral part of a side dubbed ‘The Entertainers’ by broadcaster Sky thanks to their ‘gung ho’ attacking style and thrilling matches.

In front of a packed St. James’ Park, the hosts went ahead through Darren Peacock before Frenchman David Ginola scored one of the Goals of the Season.

Two became three in the second half as Alan Shearer crossed for strike partner Les Ferdinand to score, before getting on the scoresheet himself soon after.

The icing on the cake arrive late on when Albert burst forward and collected a pass from Rob Lee about 30 yards from goal.

He took one touch and shaped to unleash a left foot strike but instead dinked a beautiful chip over keeper Peter Schmeichel who had advanced off his line to narrow the angle.

The home fans erupted as a perfect goal capped a perfect day.

The defeat was United’s worst since 1984, though they would recover and go on to win the title that season while Newcastle again finished second.

Albert played 96 times in total for Newcastle between 1994 and 1999, and also spent time on loan at Fulham.

He returned to his native Belgium to rejoin Charleroi for the 1999/2000 season before retiring. He is now a succesful football pundit and also runs a fruit and vegetable business.


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