Kevin Mbabu

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

When Newcastle United last signed a Swiss right-back, 17-year-old Kevin Mbabu wasn't even born but the new arrival from Servette is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Marc Hottiger and become a fans' favourite on Tyneside.

In August 1994, Hottiger joined Kevin Keegan's revolution from FC Sion and won plenty of admirers with his tough-tackling approach and willingness to strike from distance as the Magpies finished sixth in his first season.

Now, having signed a contract at St. James' Park on Thursday - the final day of the January transfer window - Mbabu is aiming to become another Swiss star like Hottiger.

"I know the name and I know he was a major player for the Swiss national team in the World Cup in the United States, and that after that he signed for Newcastle," Mbabu told nufc.co.uk in his first interview as a Newcastle player.

"And I'm aware that he was very popular here so I hope that I can make the same impact in the future.

"I'm very delighted to have signed for this big club. It's always been a very important target for me to join an English club."

Mbawu made one senior appearance for Servette, and in doing became the youngest player to appear in the Swiss Super League this season when he came from the bench against Lausanne in September.

He then came to Newcastle on trial towards the end of 2012, impressing enough to tempt United to sign him up. Initially, he will play for Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley's under-21 squad but on Thursday he trained with the first team.

"I saw that the speed and pace is at another level to in my country and I know that I'll have to work hard to achieve the same level because there's top players here," he said.

"I hope to finish my development and in terms of the first team, join them. I'll try to integrate into the first team and try to get my minutes with the first team.

"First I will try to learn about the city as soon as possible to know about the people in the city and try to make some friends here.

"From the first day of my trial, I already felt at home. The people are very warm and welcoming so from day one, I thought it would be my club.

"I don't think I'll have big problems in adapting because I'll try to quickly learn English and people will help me.

"Of course, I speak French so it will certainly help that there are a few people who speak my language. But I will also try to learn the language from here as soon as possible. I understand more than I speak at the moment.

"I'm an athletic player, aggressive and I run a lot. I play right full-back and centre-half but I very much like to get forward."

Until now, the closest Mbabu had came to the Barclays Premier League was on a computer game. But, although it may take time, he hopes to experience the real thing with his new club.

"I like to play Football Manager - and I'm pretty good at it," he smiled.

"I don't know if my name is on the game but hopefully it will be soon!"