"I said to the gaffer: ‘Give me a chance, I’ll show you I’m back’. Rafa had different ideas. He said: ‘It doesn’t matter what you do’. That’s the business. We know we’re puppets to a certain extent. It wasn’t right. I think Benitez knows that as well. Listen, I know how football works. If somebody wants to get rid of you, I don’t mind. If the right offer comes, I’ll go; I wouldn’t sit there just for the sake of it, but the way it was done... I shouldn’t have been put in the Academy.
"I just wanted to be treated with respect. At least let me train with the first team. I felt I was back where I needed to be, but people were saying: ‘What’s up? Why is he in the Academy? Is he all right?’ I had that doubt hanging over me, which was a shame. I’m lucky Brighton looked deeper and I try not to dwell on it. The train keeps rolling.
"The worst part was watching Newcastle get relegated, sitting in the stands, not able to do anything. The boys would turn right to the training pitch and I turned left, on my own, to the gym. Before the injury, I was playing for Newcastle, playing for Holland. I try not to think about it too much, try to believe things happen for a reason. And my whole career has been a rollercoaster ride. People say it would be nice to cruise, but that never, ever happens at Newcastle.
"I married Claire, a Geordie. We have a four-year-old girl, Sophie, who was born in Newcastle. It’s Claire’s first move away from the North East, so Brighton has been a big change, although it’s an easy place to move into. Definitely 10 degrees warmer. But I owe Newcastle everything. I still have a house there, still have that connection and always will."