Newcastle have bought some howlers from the continent in their time. The likes of Xisco, Ignacio Gonzalez, Albert Luque and Jon Dahl Tomasson have all arrived at St James Park and flopped. But then Newcastle have signed the likes of Nolberto Solano, Emre, Obafemi Martins and Fabricio Coloccini from abroad and they have won the hearts of the Toon Army. One player who swung between the good and the bad for both Newcastle and Everton was Alessandro Pistone. Whatever happened to the Italian full back?
After playing in Italy for the likes of Vicenza and Inter Milan, Kenny Dalglish snapped up Pistone for £4.3 million in 1997. Pistone was a regular for Newcastle under Dalglish and impressed in his first season, although he did get ripped apart by Marc Overmars in the 1998 FA Cup Final. When Ruud Gullit took over at St James Park, Pistone was banished to the reserve team, along with Rob Lee, and even though he returned to the team under Bobby Robson, he was sold to Everton in 2000. Pistone was average at Newcastle but made some shocking defensive mistakes, but always tried his best. One funny story about Pistone concerns the “novelty gifts” that Newcastle players were given at their Christmas party, where the gifts where meant to symbolise their personality. Didi Hamann was given a copy of Mein Kampf, Temuri Ketsbaia was given a hairbrush and Pistone got a sheep’s heart. Initially he was happy, until someone explained that it was meant to replace the non-existent one he had when he played for Newcastle.
Pistone spent seven years at Everton, but his time at the club was beset by numerous serious injuries. Disciplinary problems also marred his time at Goodison Park, such as fighting with Paul Dickov in a game against Man City. The Italian was close to leaving Everton in 2005 after refusing a new deal, but eventually signed at spend a further two years at the club, which was again ravaged by injury.
Everton refused to renew the defender’s contract in 2007 and after failed trials with Middlesborough and Watford, Pistone signed with Belgian club Mons in December 2007, but left at the end of the 2007/08 season. Now 34, Pistone is currently without a club.
Pistone will go down as an average player, whose sometimes awful performances infuriated fans and the media alike. He had some great games in England, but his inconsistencies at the highest level cost him dear and at the top level you are going to get found out if you are not up to scratch. Confidence played a big part with the Italian, and criticism of his performances didn’t help him at all. Injuries were another big factor in his success in England, particularly at Everton, where he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury against Bolton in August 2005 and struggled to regain his fitness for almost two years.
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