Friday, January 20, 2012

Cult hero

(Image courtesy of Gene Selkov)

You've got to hand it to HBA. Not only does he seem well aware of the noble tradition of Newcastle players landing themselves neck-deep in hot water with the law, but he's found a remarkably novel way of doing so. Not for him one of the various driving offences committed by Toon players past and present, or waving around a replica gun like the Lone Ranger, or a good old-fashioned bout of lairy violence a la Rocky or ASBO.

Oh no.

Instead, HBA has been accused of libellous comments made in an interview with French football mag L'Equipe, in which he claimed to have been forced into joining a religious sect by rapper Abd al Malik, who is now suing our forward. The club's had plenty of cult heroes in the past, just not literally...

HBA also told L'Equipe - the organ of choice when French players want to sound off or be candid/indiscreet in their native tongue, it seems - that his issues with authority and attitude problem stemmed from the lack of paternal love he experienced as a child. And what of his current manager - is HBA feeling the Silver Fox's love? "No. But I respect him for that choice." Our number ten is a complex individual and no mistake - no doubt he's putting his gaffer's fabled man-management skills fully to the test.

It turns out that the Frenchman hasn't been the only Toon forward pondering matters paternal in relation to a dislike/distrust of authority figures. In HBA's case, it was the absence of his father's love; in Leon O'Best's case, it was the absence of a father at all. The Nottingham-born hero of Sunday's win over QPR told the BBC's Late Kick-Off that he's since grown up and benefitted enormously from the guidance and support of his mum. Apparently he did drift down the "wrong path" for a while, and many childhood friends with whom he's still in contact are now serving time - not that the two paths are mutually exclusive, of course, as the case of ASBO demonstrates...

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