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Features

Paul Dummett programme interview - in full

Written by Tom Easterby

In Newcastle United’s 125th anniversary season, Paul Dummett fittingly made his 125th appearance for the club at Stoke City on New Year’s Day. Already this season, the 26-year-old – who is now the club’s longest serving player – has had to overcome a hamstring injury that kept him out for the best part of five months, and that was one of a number of topics up for discussion when UNITED accompanied the local lad to the barber’s. You can now read the full interview here…

He knew it was bad. Tottenham broke with Moussa Sissoko, who checked inside. Paul Dummett was tracking his former teammate, and attempted a tackle as the Frenchman passed to the left. Then he felt it, the sharp pain on the underside of his right thigh. He hobbled for a few paces, then dropped to the turf. “I’ve had a few hamstring injuries in the past, and nothing I’ve had felt the way it felt in that game,” explains the 26-year-old. “Even when the physio came on I said to him, ‘don’t touch my leg and don’t try and do anything with it. I need to come off’.

“When I got inside the changing room, they couldn’t really do much to assess me because my leg was in that much pain and I couldn’t move whatsoever. Even trying to ice my leg, I couldn’t sit with my leg flat on the bed – I had to lie on my belly and ice it the other way, because I was in that much pain.”

Dummett, boyhood Newcastle supporter and now the club’s longest serving player, featured in all but one of the Magpies’ Championship games last term, a year in which his own progress was marked. That momentum was halted seven minutes into this season’s first game.

He lay on the St. James’ Park pitch, facing skywards, his eyes shut. The coming weeks would be spent on crutches and seeing specialists. “Once you get over that first stage you’re in all day – I was doing a morning session, a session in the pool and then an afternoon session. It’s quite intense when you’re building your fitness back up,” explains Dummett. “But it’s the mental toughness that is the hardest part of being injured I think.

“When I did it I had one person say I’d be out for six weeks, so at the time I was really happy because I thought I’d got away without having to be out for much longer. I know six weeks is still a long time, but I thought quite positively about that.

“Then I got the sucker punch of being told it would be sixteen weeks. The first few days you’re a bit gutted, thinking about how long you’re going to be out for. Once I got my head around it I had stages set in my mind. I had four weeks where I’d be on my crutches and in a brace, and once I got that four weeks out of the way I knew that I had another stage, another target to get to. There’s loads of ways of dealing with it. I spoke to Derek (Wright, physio) about it and he said, ‘you need to do it in stages’, so that’s how I tried to do it.”

It was 136 days before the local lad lined up again – in the defeat to Manchester City just after Christmas – but he began 2018 free of the injury that robbed him of the campaign’s first half.

Dummett is a home-grown success story, his 126 outings testament to his resilience and appetite to overcome the doubters that questioned him when his career was in its infancy. “I think sometimes as a young player you have doubts if you don’t play, you’re not getting picked or you get setbacks,” he explains. “I’ve had plenty of setbacks in my career with injuries, or with people saying ‘you’re not good enough’. You get sent on loan and when you do, you have to prove yourself, and that’s what I did when I was younger.

“I got told I wouldn’t be good enough to play in the Premier League, or good enough to play in a certain manager’s team. You’ve got to overcome that, have self-belief and believe that you’re good enough.”

Dummett divulges that the manager in question is Alan Pardew. “When I got told I wasn’t good enough, I just said it was up to me to prove him wrong. As soon as I said that, he knew I had the right attitude because he said ‘that’s the attitude I want to see from my players’. I’ve always had a good attitude with wanting to learn and wanting to get better, and that’s probably why I’m still playing for Newcastle now.

“I was never the stand-out player when I was really young. Getting to the older ages, if you asked a lot of people who played in teams with me or the managers I had, they probably wouldn’t have picked me to be the player who would go on to play for Newcastle and play the 100-odd games that I have now.

“I’ve always had that belief in myself and the confidence that I was good enough, and I had to prove to certain managers who didn’t believe that. With the hard work I’ve put in, it’s probably why I’m still here now.”

But he doesn’t hold anything against Pardew, under whom he made his breakthrough. “It was up to me to me to show character and show belief in myself to convince him that I was good enough, and to prove it.”

That he has been able to do that, at the club that means more to him than any other, is a source of great satisfaction, even if Dummett may not be the chest-thumping, badge-kissing type out on the pitch. “It is a big thing, growing up being a Newcastle fan, always wanting to play for Newcastle since being a young boy. The amount of hard work and sacrifices I’ve put in to get where I am now… I knew from when I was younger if I made those sacrifices, and put the hard work in, I could get the rewards later on in life, and I’m doing that now.

“The age I am is when everyone expects you to be playing your best football. I’ve missed five months of this season but in the Championship season, I really enjoyed it. The season before that I still played a lot of games and the team struggled, but on a personal level I thought I did alright. Since the new manager came in I’ve played a lot of games under him so personally, it’s been good for me.”

Tim Krul’s departure in the summer saw Dummett become the most seasoned member of Newcastle’s playing staff, a title that exists primarily in record books but still carries some weight in the dressing room. “It’s something I’m proud of because I’m a Newcastle fan. I don’t know if it gives you a bit more authority, but I think everyone knows how well you know the club and how long you’ve been here for. I think the manager even knows now – you get a bit older, and the manager can speak to me now about certain things that certain players might not want to speak about.

“It’s one of those things that is a bit different. I don’t think it’s a bit more authority, but maybe means you’re more respected. But I think the older you get and the more games you play, you get that respect from other people.”

Perhaps, having reached the 125-appearance mark at Stoke on New Year’s Day, Dummett is becoming more appreciated. Such is his unquestionable consistency and quiet, steadying influence on the left side of defence, some supporters are beginning to recognise what they’ve missed in his injury-enforced absence.

There is much to be admired, too, as he offers a self-assessment of his game. Dummett is under no illusions as to his qualities but, above all, it is clear that his grit that has helped him become part of the furniture at St. James’ Park. “I know that I’m not a player who is going to bring attacking flair and goals and all that kind of stuff,” he says. “But I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not good at, and I try to do what I’m good at as best I can.”

"I’ve always had that belief in myself and the confidence that I was good enough, and I had to prove to certain managers who didn’t believe that. With the hard work I’ve put in, it’s probably why I’m still here now."

Paul Dummett

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