Blair is ray of light

His name may not be household yet but amid football's current gloom, little-known Steven Blair sheds a chink of light.

His name may not be household yet but amid football's current gloom, little-known Steven Blair sheds a chink of light.

The 17-year-old Scot was heartbroken when released by Glasgow Rangers, his boyhood heroes, 18 months ago.

After years of overspending, the cash-strapped Old Firm giants were - like many a club - offloading players left, right and centre.

Without a reputation to his name, Blair thought about quitting football for good, and even considered suing Rangers, the club he adored, for a breach of contract.

Instead, he picked himself up, dusted himself down and was soon attracting interest from Newcastle, Arsenal and Fulham.

He opted for a three-year deal at St James's and, having impressed United's coaching staff to the extent that he was invited to train with the first team for the final weeks of last season, Blair is living proof that, even at the worst of times, all is not lost.

"I've always been a Rangers fan so it was a dream come true when I joined them," Blair said. "I was signed on a schoolboy contract but they had given me written assurance I would get a two-year apprentice deal followed by a two-year professional one.

"When the time came for me to leave school the deal was no longer on the table and no-one explained why.

"Yet the agreement I had was signed by Dick Advocaat, manager at the time. When I was due to sign it was about the time he was stepping down and Alex McLeish was taking over.

"I thought about taking legal action because I had a strong case, but after talking it over with my family we decided there was no point in challenging a club that didn't want me.

"Now I just want Rangers to realise what a mistake they made - and signing for Newcastle will give me a chance. Other teams were interested but I felt this was the best move. I have a feeling I can do well here.

"I've just finished a season with the youth team and it was enjoyable. I have learned a lot and even made it into the first-team squad's training sessions.

"I felt relaxed and it was great when Jonathan Woodgate and Kieron Dyer took time out to tell me I had played well and made a good impression.

"The most important thing is that I still keep working hard and learning. I still do a course on sport, leisure and physiotherapy one and half days a week. Hopefully, though, I won't need to go down that line of work for at least another 15 years."

Fingers crossed.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer