Just over an hour after Tottenham's Premier League clash vs Chelsea comes to an end on Sunday, a former Spurs man will lead his new side out at Wembley. Raising plenty of eyebrows last January after departing Atletico Madrid for a Premier League relegation scrap with Newcastle United, Kieran Trippier's move to the north east for a bargain fee of £12million has well and truly paid off.
Playing his part in Newcastle's upturn in form shortly after his move to St James' Park as he contributed with crucial goals against Everton and Aston Villa, Eddie Howe's side comfortably stayed up and were only three points off a top-half finish. It was some achievement considering the position they were in at the start of December having only won their first league game of the season at the 15th attempt.
Newcastle have gone from strength to strength ever since Howe and Trippier stepped in through the door, with the right-back leading by example while wearing the captain's armband. His influence has been huge both off and on the pitch and standards have risen considerably since.
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Looking to build on their 11th place finish and push towards the European spots, Newcastle have shocked many in 2022/23 and are very much ahead of schedule with a Champions League finish on their minds. In the top four since the start of November after an incredible run of results aided by a watertight defence, last weekend saw the Magpies slip out of the final Champions League spot as Tottenham capitalised on their recent struggles to win.
The players may well have had Sunday's Carabao Cup final on their mind after a run of one win, five draws and one defeat from their last seven league fixtures. Trippier has played an integral role in their Premier League and Carabao Cup campaign so far this term, notably contributing one goal and seven assists in his 30 games in all competitions.
The 32-year-old is in the form of his life and it has resulted in many Tottenham fans questioning the decision to part with him back in the summer of 2019. If the club had elected against selling him to Atletico Madrid then the right-back issues that have continued to plague them ever since his exit may never have come to fruition.
Now having Emerson Royal at the top of his game and the highly-rated Pedro Porro at the club, hopefully the long-standing issues will be a thing of the past but time will tell if that is to be the case. However, there is no denying that Trippier would have flourished in Antonio Conte's system due to his quality in the final third.
Trippier is Newcastle's to cherish now, though, and Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Manchester United gives him the opportunity to cap off 13 incredible months on Tyneside. The game will also represent the chance for the England international to get his hands on a winners' medal in a final after the heartache he suffered in his last ever Tottenham appearance.
Starting at right-back in the Champions League final at his future home in June 2019, there was to be no dream ending for Trippier and Spurs in Madrid as Liverpool pipped them to the famous trophy. Trippier was disconsolate come the full-time whistle and one of the most striking images of the night for Tottenham fans was the player, who was at that point visibly emotional and distraught following the defeat, being commiserated by the travelling faithful.
It was also a goodbye for the ex-Burnley man as he knew there and then that his future lay away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as he was aware Daniel Levy was offering him to other clubs. A return to the Spanish capital was signed and sealed the following month as he penned a three-year deal with Atleti, who he helped to the La Liga title in his second year with the club.
Tottenham could only watch on as Trippier thrived in Spain and they themselves continued to struggle in the right-back berth that he had left. Spurs have yet to find their answer to the problem but the hope is that Porro, who chipped in with goals and assists for fun for Sporting CP, can be the long-term answer to the troublesome area.
Following Sunday's Premier League encounter against Chelsea, plenty of Tottenham fans will tune in and watch Trippier proudly lead Newcastle United out at the national stadium as the club look to end their 54-year trophy drought. Amid all those question marks in January 2022 after swapping Spain for St James', the right-back has the chance to write his name into Newcastle folklore by leading them to that much-craved piece of silverware.
It will be some feeling if he does manage to achieve that goal. Tottenham's loss very much has been Newcastle's gain.
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