Philippe Albert is a cult hero amongst fans of Newcastle United; the Belgian defender made quite an impact during his five years in the North-East.
Albert became a household name after his impressive performances for Belgium in the 1994 World Cup; after the tournament he attracted attention from club across Europe but he opted to move to Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle despite interest from Juventus. Albert went on to play a key role in the side that Keegan built; the Entertainers were the most watchable team in the division and Albert played his role despite being a centre-back. His ability to carry the ball out of defence was admirable and his most famous moment came in the 5-0 defeat of Manchester United as he scored an exquisite chip over Peter Schmeichel who was the best goalkeeper in the world at the time.
After his impressive spell in the Newcastle first-team, Albert spent a season on loan to Fulham before retuning to Belgium for one last season. He then retires, and now 42-years-old he lives a fairly normal life. He works occasionally for Belgian TV as a pundit but generally he claims to not be interested in football any more. He is one of the few players that has happily accepted the end of his career and is able to continue functioning without the adulation of fans and constant pressure of elite-level sport. Together with a friend of his, Albert runs a fruit and vegetable firm in Belgium and plays tennis in his spare time.
It is refreshing to see that there are players who are able to leave the world of football behind; Albert experiences no regrets about his career, he is not torn up by the missed opportunities in his time at Newcastle; he has accepted them and moved on. His sensible approach is one that many footballers would do well to learn from, a lesson that is especially poignant when compared to another Newcastle legend, Paul Gascoigne, who is in complete meltdown.