ANDY Carroll has revealed his debt of gratitude to his Newcastle United team-mates and boss Chris Hughton for sticking by him through on and off-field trauma.
Carroll, outstanding since the turn of the year, has been a key figure in United’s promotion campaign but his 19 crucial goals tell only half the story of an eventful season.
As excellent as his form has been this term, Carroll has had some well-publicised problems off the pitch – controversy that has landed him in court over an alleged assault.
The striker must keep his counsel on those issues for understandable legal reasons but he acknowledges that his rise to prominence has proved to be a steep learning curve for him.
In turbulent times he has been thankful for the support of Hughton, assistant boss Colin Calderwood and the rest of the squad – help that he hopes his goal-scoring contributions have gone a long way to repaying.
“Looking back it’s been a great season for the club,” Carroll told The Journal.
“Obviously, I’ve had problems on and off the field this season but the lads have got round me. Chris and Colin have been great with me, they’ve helped me along and looked after me.
“I owe a lot to Chris. He stuck by me through everything and I hope I’ve repaid him with goals and performances. I think the whole of the team felt like they owed him and we’ve managed to repay him a bit by winning the title.”
Although the striker was dropped following the assault arrest in December, he returned to the team the week after and
Hughton has shown remarkable patience and loyalty to the forward. Refusing to be drawn on questions about Carroll’s temperament, Hughton has been fiercely protective of the England Under-21 man.
While it has not stemmed all of the speculation surrounding Carroll it has won him the respect of the homegrown forward, who says Hughton has been a unifying force in the dressing room.
“He’s brought everyone together. I can’t say enough good things about him,” he said. “When we went down last season the dressing room wasn’t like it is now. Everyone is together as a team now, we do everything together and Chris has had a big influence.
“Chris is just a great guy. He has our respect and he’s a great manager.” After the ups and downs, last Saturday was a day of joy for Carroll – who lifted the Championship trophy in front of friends and family at St James’ Park.
For a former Newcastle season ticket holder, it was a dream come true.
Carroll (pictured right) said: “It was a great feeling to achieve everything we have this season. To finish unbeaten at home, with a league winner’s medal and back in the Premier League, is just special.
“Lifting the trophy in front of a full house at St James’ – that will live with me for the rest of my life. The fans joining in with the celebrations, it just makes it all worthwhile.
“My brothers, my mum and my dad and my girlfriend were all in the stands watching me. It was everyone who means something to me and I was just proud to be able to do it for them. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family.”
Carroll’s contribution to United’s resurrection has piqued the interest of England boss Fabio Capello, who sees the striker as one to watch for the future.
Aided by a glowing testimonial from under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, Carroll is on the fast-track to international recognition if progress is maintained. But he remains unaffected by England talk.
“It was mad to see my name linked with it,” he said. “I just have to see what happens – all I can do about it is play my football and keep scoring goals. England takes care of itself after that.”