I'm a Celeb - How ex Newcastle United star David Ginola had nation swooning with 'sexy Yoda' appearance
and live on Freeview channel 276
It's just a matter of days until Geordie duo Ant & Dec return to screens as the faces of hit ITV reality show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! with the latest group of celebs hitting our screens on Sunday night.
There's always a Tyneside interest in the show with the iconic hosts up to their trademark antics and regularly finding ways to big up the region in between segments. Last year, of course, there was added North East intrigue with Sunderland-born England Lioness star Jill Scott taking part in the series.
The former footballer won over the nation and went on to be crowned Queen of the Jungle, although her icon status in the area was more likely confirmed by lifting the Euro 2022 trophy a few months earlier. There's often been representation from this corner of the world with Vicky Pattison, Scarlett Moffat, Scott Henshall and Vic Reeves all previously taking part in the show.
However, there are perhaps few I'm a Celeb stars who wooed Newcastle quite like David Ginola in 2021. The French former footballer is somewhat of an honorary Geordie thanks to his two years at St James' Park and was a class act, striking up a loveable rapport with Ant & Dec, during his time on the show.
That year, ITV held the competition at Gwrych Castle in Wales for a second time due to ongoing Covid-19 travel restrictions and Ginola appeared in a cast alongside eventual winner Danny Miller, Frankie Bridge, Simon Gregson and Kadeena Cox.
David Ginola becomes favourite after sharing near-death experience
Early on in the season, the former Magpies star became a strong favourite to win the series after he moved the nation by sharing his near-death experience. In 2016, during a charity football match in France, the winger collapsed due to cardiac arrest and fell into a coma.
Speaking to his campmates, an emotional Ginola said: “I passed away for 12 minutes. I was just playing football and at one stage you fall on the floor.
“They had to perform CPR for 12 minutes and then they arrived with the defibrillator. They shocked me one time, two times, three times... they said ‘we think your friend is dead’.
“Then a fourth and the fifth time, and then there was a heartbeat. The surgeon said I was very lucky, it’s a miracle as nine out of 10 would have died.”
Campmates Miller, Naughty Boy, Arlene Phillips and Richard Madeley listened intently to the story with stunned faces as emotional messages of support poured out online for the former footballer.
Former Newcastle United star's tough love for Naughty Boy
At other moments, Ginola won over viewers with inspiring pep talks for the nerve-ridden Miller ahead of trials - the actor going on to describe his pal as a 'man crush'.
The 56-year-old wasn't all emotional tales and inspirational talks though, and did come close to a fall-out with Naughty Boy. The music producer was the cast member who struggled the most with life in the camp that season and mused about quitting the show after being selected to do a trial by the rival camp.
Ginola, who had previously snapped at Naughty Boy for taking too long to complete a trial, largely bit his tongue as he sat with arms folded but did jibe: "You know what they say, enjoy your last night in the clink."
Ginola as 'sexy, shirtless Yoda' on I'm a Celeb
A smouldering former French athlete wasn't all a bad thing for viewers, with some feeling a little lustful towards the star. Smutty comments became a regular occurrence online and one X user wrote: "David Ginola seems to be the Yoda of the group. A big, sexy, shirtless Yoda, for the mums."
Unfortunately for the mums, Ginola made no secret of his love for 34-year-old model girlfriend Maeva Denat, announcing that the first thing he would do upon leaving the show would be 'making love'. At one point the star showed his true love for his partner when tearing up at a letter from home.
Maeve wrote: "My love, I miss you more with every second that passes. The time is so long, we can't wait for you to come back to us, there is a big void at home without you. Everything is fine here, Eva asks after you every day, she misses you so much. She loves her daddy, her David, very very much."
Ginola eventually finished fourth on the show, going home just before the final - although, as he made clear, he had bigger plans to take part in when leaving I'm a Celeb.