Fans' favourite


The 25-year-old has proved to be an inspired addition by Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and Yohan Cabaye has been labelled as one of the best summer signings, writes Pete Thompson.

Yohan Cabaye was something of an unknown quantity when he arrived at Newcastle this summer but the France midfielder has already made a name for himself in the Barclays English Premier League.

The attack-minded Cabaye joined the Magpies from French champions Lille for an undisclosed fee in June but the move attracted very little media attention in England.

However, the 25-year-old has proved to be an inspired signing by Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and Cabaye has been labelled as one of the best summer signings.

Newcastle were tipped by many pundits to be relegation candidates, but they have made a flying start to the EPL season and occupy fourth place following their win against Wigan.

It was doom and gloom around St. James' Park after Andy Carroll, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique left the club but a new star has been born in the North East in the shape of Cabaye.

Cabaye was just six years old when he started playing for his hometown club Tourcoing FC. He spent seven years there honing his skills but he moved on in the summer of 1998 at the age of 12 when the opportunity to join Lille arose.

Cabaye continued his education with Lille, spending six years in the Academy and breaking into the reserve team.

Lille offered the midfielder his first professional contract ahead of the 2004/05 campaign and he put pen to paper on a three-year deal.

Cabaye, who represented France at every age group from Under-16s to Under-21s, was given an opportunity to play in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, which the French side won, and he was handed his first Ligue 1 start against Istres in November by coach Claude Puel.

He made 12 appearances in his breakthrough season and the following year he featured even more frequently, also making his UEFA Champions League debut against Benfica.

Cabaye signed a new contract but the following season he was hampered by ankle injuries as Lille finished in a disappointing 10th place, but the 2007/08 campaign was more memorable as he scored seven times and started 37 matches.

He signed another new contract and had emerged as a key player for Lille and after coach Puel departed for Lyon, his replacement Rudi Garcia decided to give Cabaye a more attacking midfield role.

Cabaye thrived as a playmaker, with Lille finishing fifth in Ligue 1 in Garcia's first season in charge and better was to come in the 2009/10 campaign as he scored 15 goals, with the club finishing fourth and reaching the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League.

Lille went on to land a league and cup double in what turned out to be Cabaye's last season at the club, the first two honours of his career and the club's first French title since 1954.

Newcastle came calling this summer and Cabaye was eager to test himself in the EPL.

The midfielder has adapted to his new surroundings with ease and is already a firm fans' favourite at St. James' Park.

He scored his first goal to give the Magpies a 1-0 EPL against Wigan and manager Pardew insists there is more to come from his summer signing.

He said: “Yohan is a really class player and he brings an elegance to us that everybody really appreciates. He's hit a real cracker to get up and running. He's a level-headed person and footballer. He's settled in and his quality shows every week. His goal will endear him to the fans even more.”

Cabaye who missed much of the 2006/07 season due to injury made his France debut in August last year and started Les Bleus' last three UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying matches.

And if he can maintain the sort of form he has produced for Newcastle so far, it would be no surprise to see Cabaye enhancing his reputation even further at next summer's showpiece Euro 2012 tournament in Ukraine an Poland.

Cabaye is married to Fiona, who comes from Mouvaux which is near to the midfielder's hometown Tourcoing. His choice of vehicle since his move to England is unknown.

FACTFILE Name: Position: D.O.B: France caps: France goals: Moment to remember Moment to forget

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