Alessandro Pistone was signed by Newcastle in 1997 and spent three years at St. James’ Park. He insists that he was ‘living his dream’ at Newcastle, but was shown the cold shoulder by then manager Ruud Gullit.
Pistone was on Tyneside for three years making 45 league appearances for the Magpies between 1997 and 2000 and he helped guide Newcastle to the FA Cup final in 1998. However, once Gullit was made manager in 1998, he was quickly frozen out of first-team activity.
In quotes from ChronicleLive, Pistone spoke on the ordeal saying: “We didn’t like each other, but I never understood why. Generally speaking, I think he was a good coach, but when he arrived he picked up more than 10 players and cast them aside without a word. He left out Shearer."
Despite regaining his place under Gullit’s successor Sir Bobby Robson, he joined Everton in 2000. Interestingly, despite his love for the City of Newcastle, Pistone said he never felt like he was part of the group.
He says: “At that time, only a few Italian players had left Italy to go abroad. I was one of the youngest, but I always wanted to play abroad so Newcastle was a big opportunity for me. In those years Newcastle had one of the best teams in the Premier League.
"The year before I arrived they’d only lost out on the title in the last few matches. It was a big team with great players so I couldn’t miss the opportunity.”
He continued on to speak about the lifestyle change moving from abroad to England. Many foreign players face this problem when they move to England even to this day.
Pistone explained: “I didn’t speak English and I drunk, and still drink, only water, so even the pubs were not the best places for me. Weather apart, it was beautiful. Newcastle is a very nice city, with clubs, pubs and restaurants.
"Then there are the fans, who were and still are special. They live for Newcastle United. I’ve never met a Newcastle citizen who was not a Newcastle fan."