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I want to thank the fans, says departing Haïdara

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Massadio Haïdara paid tribute to Newcastle United’s supporters as he gave his final interview to nufc.co.uk following the Magpies’ win over Chelsea last month.

Haïdara’s departure from St. James’ Park was confirmed on Friday, bringing the Frenchman’s five-and-a-half-year spell on Tyneside to a close.

The defender joined United from AS Nancy in January 2013 and played his part in the Magpies’ run to the last eight of the Europa League that term – a competition in which he made his debut, against Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv.

However, injury has restricted Haïdara to less than 60 appearances for Newcastle all told. Almost a third of those came during the 2014/15 campaign, and a 25-minute showing in the Magpies’ 6-2 victory over Norwich City early the following season was his last for more than a year.

He figured just once in the Championship as Rafa Benítez’s side returned to the top flight at the first attempt, and – despite being fit for the most part – it has been a similar story this time out, with the 25-year-old forced to settle for just a single outing each in the Premier League and FA Cup.

And, though he admitted that his time in black and white has not been without frustration, Haïdara was quick to highlight the role played by the Toon Army in keeping his spirits up during his darkest days.

“I want to thank the fans – they have always been amazing,” he said, having just turned out for the last time as a United player, coming on as a late replacement for Mohamed Diamé. “Since the first day I came here, and when I’ve had the ups and downs, they were the first to send me messages to try to make me happy, and for that I am very, very pleased.

“Because I had some injuries, I couldn’t do what I wanted. That is a little disappointment from my time here. But I’ve had some good times as well. I remember my first year, playing in the Europa League, and winning the Championship last season. I’ve had a good time, it’s just I’ve had some difficult times as well. That’s part of football – sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want, but sometimes it is perfect.

“(This season) has been strange. You train every week and you don’t have a game at a weekend. I just try to be professional, try to train properly, try to be involved and give everything I have to the manager to see if I can get some minutes, or if I can be on the bench. I never give up. I always try to do my best and help my teammates push on, and make them better as well. I was waiting, patient for my time. That is the way you have to be and that is what I did.”

The Magpies’ resounding win against the Blues made sure of a top-half finish in the Premier League in their first season back in the top flight.

It is a placing they have never bettered during Haïdara’s stint on Tyneside, and he spoke of his delight at signing off on such a positive note.

“It’s a big achievement – I think before the season started no one could see Newcastle in this position and being safe with five games to go,” he said. “To finish by winning 3-0 against a big team like Chelsea is a bonus for the club and for everyone, so that is nice.

“It’s a positive season for everyone, because we’ve finished higher than we thought before, and we’ve had some great games – against Manchester United here, against Chelsea today, and even against Spurs (at Wembley), I think we deserved something better. We know we can have good games against the good teams. The team have the quality, and that is a good sign for Newcastle. What the manager did since he came is paying off now.”

At the time of the interview, Haïdara was still unsure of his next destination, insisting that he would be taking his time before making up his mind.

“I don’t want to rush – I want to see what is best for me, and try to make a good choice for me and for the sake of my career,” he said.

“I am really, really happy to finish my time by having some minutes at St. James’ Park. It was really good for me, and for the people around me to see me on the pitch again. I hope everything will go better and better at Newcastle every year, and whatever people are here I’m sure will give 100 per cent.”

"I want to thank the fans – they have always been amazing. Since the first day I came here, and when I’ve had the ups and downs, they were the first to send me messages to try to make me happy, and for that I am very, very pleased."

Massadio Haïdara

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