“When I went on loan to Gateshead they laughed at me and said: ‘What have you gone there for?’ But now they don’t play football anymore. They might have had more ability but I had to show the commitment and determination that some of them might not have had. There were players more highly thought of than me. James Tavernier was one, who is at Rangers now. Brad Inman was another. Phil Airey got a lot of headlines. I don’t think he’s playing anymore. In general I don’t think - and the coaches will probably tell you that as well - they’d ever say they would look at me and say I was one who was going to play in the first team.
“I got told I wasn’t good enough by Alan Pardew. I was a bit concerned at the time when I left his office. In my head I knew that I just wanted the best chance I could and if it wasn’t at Newcastle. I told him I would prove him wrong. He knew then my attitude was right. I had gone out on loan and kept going. He was the one who ultimately gave me the chance in the Premier League. I don’t know if he did it to motivate me but he said: ‘That’s the attitude I want to see from my players’. I think he said it to other players as well and it didn’t end up happening for them. I think you have to be good enough at the time and lucky enough to get the chance.
“I was eight years old when I joined Newcastle. I don’t think you ever really believe you’re going to be a professional footballer until it actually happens. Going through the ages, once I got to 15 or 16 I thought I was going to be released. It’s the impression you get from coaches but I was never one of the main players in the team. There was always players talked about more than me. I sat down with my family and my dad had heard other players were going to get released and I felt I maybe would too. I had to keep going, believing and I went out on loan to St Mirren and even then I thought I would get released after that. I thought I would be playing football for someone else and not Newcastle. I got another one year contract, I stayed and two games into the season against Liverpool I found out I was getting another contract. That totally changed my life and my career.”