Ayoze pose ()Ayoze pose () © Copyright

Wor Ayoze is magic

The Toon army has had little to cheer this season, but skillful Spanish forward Ayoze Perez is blazing a trail reminiscent of heroes past

Perez, who grew up in Tenerife and made the transition from ball boy to first-team star at his hometown club, is impressing with a hustle that is setting him apart from his the rest of his teammates. Moreover, the Spaniard is combining skill, technical ability, constant probing and intelligent running between the lines with impressive consistency.

Ayoze ignored some of Europe’s biggest clubs when he joined Newcastle for a fee of £1.5 million in June 2014. After impressing in pre-season, he earned a place on the substitutes’ bench for the opening game of the 2014/15 season, against champions Manchester City.

“Nervous?” he says laughing, “I was so nervous, it all happened so quickly, and suddenly I was on the pitch at the biggest stadium I’d ever played in, in front of all the fans. It was the first game of Premier League football I’d ever been to. I only played 10 minutes, but it was enough. I said to myself ‘I can do this.’ I felt like I’d be OK in English football.”

He’s been more than OK… Ayoze has not only gained plenty of exposure to the nature of first team Premier League football, he’s led the way. 

Perez scores ()

 

“It was tough.” Says Ayoze recollecting his first season in England. “I hadn’t really expected to play that much, so to play nearly every game [he played 36 of 38 matches] was a surprise. I expected to score more goals but I’m still adapting, it was a good year

Ayoze can dribble, he can go either way, shoot with both feet and he is effective working between the lines. And unlike some before him, who looked like creative geniuses when things were going well but less so when the chips were down, Ayoze is consistent. Even when he loses the ball, he quickly tries to win it back, which has endeared him to the home support.

“When I first came here I would sometimes lose the ball in training, so I started fighting to win it back. I really surprised myself, and it really helped me adapt. That kind of play, combined with the skills, is good type of play, it works in the league.” 

Ayoze profile ()

 

Ayoze Perez isn’t a natural tackler, but watching him hurtle around the pitch like an under-12 trying to impress his coach in a game of piggy-in-the-middle is endearing. It’s the kind of thing flair players don’t often do, and when they do it, supporters love it. Now, Ayoze is working on the physical aspect of his game in an effort to help Newcastle climb the table. 

“I am always trying to improve every day, but especially my body, it’s a tough league, a league full of strong players, and I have to be stronger too. Just to compete.”

To read more, buy the latest copy of Forever Sports from all good magazine shops or online here 

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