Enrique pleased he is still at Newcastle
JOSE ENRIQUE believes he made the correct decision when he chose to stay with Newcastle rather than join the exodus of players who quit the club following relegation from the Premier League last summer. While Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Sebastien Bassong were among those who bailed out, Enrique resolved to stay and help the club regain top-flight status. The Spaniard admits that he found it hard to accept that Newcastle were no longer a Premier League club and that it pained him to watch England's top sides on television, knowing that it would be at least a year until he could pits his wits against the likes of Rooney, Drogba and Tevez. But the support of the St James' Park faithful cushioned the blow of playing Championship football and made home matches feel as though he was still performing on the big stage. What I can say is that every player who decided to stay at Newcastle following relegation did so because they wanted to stay, claimed the former Valencia defender. They decided it was better to try and help the team win promotion than leave straight after relegation. That was the same for me. I wanted to play in the Championship because I knew we had a great chance of getting straight back to the Premier League. Looking back now, I know it was the right decision. Even last summer when I said I wanted to stay, I meant it. I don't lie. People will now believe and realise why I did. Yes, of course it hurts to see Premier League games on television. For me, the worst games this season were the first ones. I remember saying to Jonas at the end of games I still don't believe we are in the Championship, it has not sunk in.' It felt as if we were missing out on something because the Premier League is so massive. But in many ways, it has not felt that we are out of it. We get nearly 50,000 coming here every week and away from home, there are always two or three thousand of them. It has never stopped feeling like a big club, a Premier League club. But it was also important for us to remember not only that we were in the Championship but why we were in the Championship. It was the players' own mistakes and the fact we did not play well last season. We kept saying to each other to remember why we went down. That made us so determined to go straight back up. We always knew what we were capable of but it was important to remember the bad times to make sure they did not happen again. Enrique scored his first goal in 88 attempts as a Newcastle player that helped secure victory against Nottingham Forest on Monday night. Victory this weekend and defeat for Forest at Bristol City will guarantee Newcastle's place in the Premier League next season. Asked if he would if he would be celebrating with a glass of bubbly once promotion was confirmed, Enrique replied: No! I have never drunk alcohol in my life. I will not change that... well, maybe a little bit but no more. Newcastle striker Peter Lovenkrands has been nominated for the Championship player of the month gong with Chris Hughton up for the managerial award. Newcastle United's under- 18s slipped to a 4-1 defeat in their top three FA Premier Academy clash against Nottingham Forest at a windswept Little Benton yesterday.
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