Cisse enjoying his time on Tyneside

SETTLED: Papiss Cisse

SETTLED: Papiss Cisse

First published in Newcastle United News, Match Reports, Fixtures, Results & Tables The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

It is not always easy for a footballer to settle into new surroundings, particularly when they are moving to a country and culture that is alien to them. But as Sports Writer Steph Clark exclusively discovered, Newcastle United have helped make it easy for £10m man Papiss Cisse

WITH ten goals in his first nine games at Newcastle, Papiss Cisse is hardly short of confidence and inspiration.

So there is something quite ironic that there lying on a table in the new number nine's living room is a DVD of the film Goal, because the Senegal striker is already living in his very own fairytale.

The story of a talented footballer, who comes from nowhere to become a Newcastle United hero in the space of no time at all, bears some resemblance to the whirlwind start Cisse has enjoyed to his career on Tyneside.

The 26-year-old has been nothing short of a revelation since signing for £10m in January. His already impressive goalscoring record has quickly catapulted him from new boy to fans' favourite.

His house, an appealing abode in the leafy suburbs of Newcastle, Cisse admits is far from finished and as he continues to furnish the place, there are some interesting items on show that have been collected during his career.

A canvas colour portrait of the striker celebrating during his Freiburg days is on show, while a trophy he received at the end of the 2010-11 season for being the Bundesliga's top scorer with 22 goals, is a reminder of his undeniable talent.

But while Cisse openly admits he is still settling in to life in the North-East, there is no inclination from the 26-year-old that the battle to adapt to his new surroundings is affecting him. Of course, his on-field impact has helped the transition seem all the more easy, but from spending time with the Senegal man, it's clear he is having no problems adjusting to Tyneside life.

Newly-formed organisation Elite Welfare Management (EWM) is working to ensure clubs are offering sufficient support to players moving, both domestically and from abroad.

Some employers are yet to recognise the importance of such support, but they only have to look at Newcastle to see what can happen.

It seems the careful attention Alan Pardew and his staff have paid to their new number nine is paying dividends, and Cisse's transition into English life has translated onto the pitch.

Suggestions have surfaced that the former Freiburg man is finding it hard to adjust, but Cisse reveals the extent to which Newcastle have gone to ensure he is happy.

"It's been great so far, it's mainly because I've had a lot of support from the coach and the club. They have done a lot to help me settle into life here and I'm thankful for that," he said.

"They have helped me adapt to life here and helped me settle in the city. They have guided and directed me to what is best and put some good people around me to help.

"It's very important clubs help players adapt to life in a new country. It can be difficult coming to a place you are unfamiliar with and with a language you don't speak and a culture you are not used to.

"There are a lot of things you never get used to no matter how long you live somewhere, so it is really important a club helps a player to settle, especially if they want them to do well at the club. It avoids any repercussions with my development on the pitch.

"There isn't always enough help in football. Some things a club can't really help with, but Newcastle have helped as much as they can and now it's down to me to repay them for that and prove why they spent a lot of money to bring me here from Germany."

Cisse is yet to bring his family to the North-East, but he is looking forward to the day they can watch him walk out at St James' Park.

Until then, the Dakar-born striker has some adopted family members to help him along.

The 26-year-old has already struck up a strong bond with fellow countryman Demba Ba and the 16-goal striker has played a big part in Cisse's settlement.

"The main thing I am missing is my family. I left them behind and I've had to live abroad by myself for a few years now, but that's what comes with my job and if I do well that will make them happy," he said.

"I have to adapt to this lifestyle, because I have a long way to go and I want to prove myself at Newcastle.

"It has helped having Demba here, especially at the African Cup of Nations, because he was telling me all about Newcastle and what it's like here. He told me all good things about Newcastle and everything he said has been right, about the club, the fans, everything. That's why I'm enjoying being here.

"It is sometimes difficult to communicate with the manager and the players, but I have Demba to help with that and I'm also taking English lessons."

It's the little things Newcastle have done to help Cisse settle for which he is most thankful. The club ensure he goes to English lessons at the city's university, and have held an African-theme day at their training base in Benton. The training ground's chef has even occasionally served up Senegalese dish Yassa.

Having an abundance of French-speaking players on Tyneside has been a help, but the support from the fans has also had an impact on Cisse, so much so that he paid one youngster a surprise visit after receiving a 'Welcome to Newcastle' card from him.

So what about the DVD? Cisse's Newcastle story might be in its opening chapters, but already the striker is well aware of the passion and emotion football evokes on Tyneside.

"I first watched it three or four years ago," he explained. "It's a good film and a good story. So when I came to Newcastle I thought I would watch it again."


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