NEWCASTLE UNITED last night completed the signing of Jack Colback and the former Sunderland midfielder is dreaming of ending his career at St James’ Park.
After rejecting the chance to stay at the Stadium of Light where he spent more than a decade, Colback has penned a long-term deal understood to be six years with the Black Cats’ staunch Tyne-Wear rivals after moving as a free agent.
The 24-year-old, born in Killingworth and living in Newcastle, is well aware of the criticism he will receive from many Sunderland fans after making his decision, but is not expecting every Newcastle supporter to be happy about his arrival either.
But Colback is satisfied he can prove to the Geordies just how much playing for the club will mean to him and his Newcastle-supporting family – even suggesting he would prefer to spend the rest of his playing days wearing a black and white shirt.
“There will be fans who don’t want the move to happen because I have come from Sunderland,” said Colback, who scored against Newcastle in Sunderland’s 3-0 St James' Park win in February.
“But I would like to think that I can win over those fans and hopefully the majority will get behind me from the start. When I step out on to the pitch, I will show passion for the team and shirt. Hopefully if all goes well, an ambition for me is to end my career here.
“It would be a huge achievement for me if I could have such a successful time here, with Newcastle doing well and getting to cup finals with me in the team.
“It would be great to bring those times back, like in the late 90s. If I could leave here something of a hero in a Newcastle shirt at the end of my career then that would be some achievement for me.”
Colback, who has recently returned from honeymoon, had other options this summer. He could have gone elsewhere with alternative options from the Premier League to ponder, but the prospect of signing for the club he supported as a boy at this stage was something he felt he could not turn down.
“I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get going,” said Colback. “It’s a special move for me personally, being a fan when I was younger and being part of my hometown team. It’s a bit of a dream come true to come here and wear the black and white shirt.
“The manager, Alan Pardew, just wants Newcastle to progress and when I spoke to him that’s the message I got from him. I wanted to come here and get to the next level.
“I want to be part of a team that wants to get in to the top eight in the Premier League. There was quite a few options to go elsewhere, but when I heard about Newcastle and the chance to come here, I was buzzing about it. There was only one place I was going to end up.”
Despite his excitement at joining Newcastle, leaving Sunderland marks the end of a chapter in his young life he has been fond of. He made over 100 appearances for the Black Cats, including February’s Capital One Cup final at Wembley, after graduating from the club’s academy.
Colback, however, is not expecting to be warmly welcomed back when he faces Sunderland in the Premier League next season.
He said: “I have been there 12 years. I am aware it is a controversial move and there will be a lot of fan backlash after it. I won’t be looking for what is being said about me. I just have to let the fans have an opinion, everyone is entitled to an opinion.
“I would like to thank Sunderland fans for their support while I was there as a player. Thanks to the club for giving me the opportunity to get to the stage I am at now.
“I have had a chance to come to play for Newcastle United, which is a massive club. When you look at St James’ Park, it is one of the best in the world as a stadium. The fans are absolutely brilliant too. I can’t wait to get going really.”
After following up the acquisition of Spanish striker Ayoze Perez with Colback, Pardew hopes for further success on the transfer front and French striker Bafetimbi Gomis remains in Newcastle’s sights. QPR are also keen and the player’s wage demands remain a problem.
Italian club Roma, meanwhile, are the latest Serie A club to show an interest in full-back Davide Santon. The left-back, who missed out on a World Cup call, has attracted AC Milan and has two years remaining on his contract. He is rated between £8-10m.