Spain forward explains how ‘radical’ Newcastle United change forged path to Euro 2024 dream

Former Newcastle United forward Ayoze PerezFormer Newcastle United forward Ayoze Perez
Former Newcastle United forward Ayoze Perez | Getty Images
Ayoze Perez will represent Spain at Euro 2024 alongside former Newcastle United teammates Mikel Merino and Joselu

Ayoze Perez believes joining Newcastle United helped “grow” into a player now preparing to take Euro 2024 by storm.

A decade ago, the Magpies took a punt on a young forward from Tenerife, fending off interest from La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Few expected him to make an immediate impression but he did exactly that - making 39 appearances in his debut season.

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Perez was thrown into the deep end of a club in crisis, with fan vitriol towards Mike Ashley reaching all-time levels. His 48 goals during his five-year spell on Tyneside made him the leading goalscorer during the Sports Direct tycoon’s ownership.

Notable highlights include important strikes at Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City and Leicester City. Perez was also integral in Rafa Benitez’s side that earned an instant Premier League return seven years ago.

A lack of ambition at St James’ Park saw the forward move to Leicester for £30million, where he spent three years before joining Real Betis. Returning to Spain has resulted in Perez enjoying an Indian summer, with 11 goals last season earning him a call-up to the national team.

He bagged and created another on his international debut against Andorra - persuading manager Luis de la Fuente Castillo to take him to Euro 2024. Speaking to IDEAL, Perez opened up about how moving to England laid the foundations for a career-long dream.

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“It’s true, I assume it’s not normal,” he said. “At a young age, 19 years old, I was already packing my bags to England, for a project and radical change in my life. It’s not normal either. I had a career in the Premier League for about nine years. Five in Newcastle, three and a half in Leicester.

“A normal trajectory, very, very good, very positive years, I grew as a person, as a footballer, after so much time I returned to Spain and in a year and a half at Betis things have gone very well. (I’ve had) months of football improvement, happiness and many other things. And in the end, after many years of work, things arrive. The reward of playing in a European Championship.”

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