Winning over his doubters

Demba Ba was linked with several English clubs but made the decision to join Newcastle on a three-year-deal. By Tom Coleman.

Demba Ba has been one of the revelations of the season so far in the Barclays English Premier League but he has certainly not been an overnight success.

The chance to play for Newcastle is the result of years of hard work to try and make the grade in the English game. Trials at Swansea, Barnsley and Watford in 2005 all lead to disappointment, causing the Senegalese striker to move back to France. Ba was offered a one-year deal at Watford, but left soon after the departure of manager Ray Lewington.

On his return to France, he set about establishing himself as a prolific goal-scorer and joined Rouen in 2005, netting 22 times in 26 games in his first season. His exploits grabbed the attention of Belgian side R.E Mouscron, who snapped him up in 2006.

Despite scoring in his first three games, Ba endured a frustrating time at the club and was sidelined for eight months with fractures in his tibia and fibia.

Ba eventually returned though and scored seven goals in nine games, as well as earning his first international cap. He left the following August to join German side 1889 Hoffenheim, becoming an integral part of their promotion to the Bundesliga. Ba only missed one game of their maiden season in Germany's top division, scoring 14 goals including a hat-trick against Stuttgart.

Stuttgart clearly took notice of Ba's prowess in front of goal and went close to signing him, only for the deal to fall through after he failed a medical.

He stayed at Hoffenheim for another two seasons and went on to score over 100 goals in total, prompting interest from a number of English clubs. A move to Stoke was on the cards in January 2011, only for Ba to once again fail his medical. Ba's past problems with medicals have been attributed to a recurring knee injury which he suffered after a botched operation.

A move to West Ham did come to fruition in January 2011, and the Senegal international took advantage of the chance given to him, putting in a series of impressive performances for the Hammers, scoring seven times in 12 games. However, he could not prevent West Ham slipping out of the EPL and was subsequently released due to a clause in his contract.

The 26-year-old was linked with several English clubs but made the decision to join Newcastle on a three-year-deal. It was not the big-name signing that the Toon Army had been expecting as they tried to fill the void left by Andy Carroll's big-money move to Liverpool.

Ba knew he had to win over his doubters, as did manager Alan Pardew who made the decision to sign the player. His faith has certainly been rewarded so far. He opened his account for the club with a hat-trick against Blackburn on September 24 and, after scoring against both Wolves and Tottenham, he produced another treble at the Britannia Stadium to show Stoke what they were missing.

Speaking after that game, Pardew hailed the character of his summer signing. “He did a great job at West Ham and I brought him to Newcastle and he has been absolutely terrific,” said the Magpies boss. “He doesn't miss a day's training. Don't think this is a one-off from him; his link-up play, his all-round ability and his finishing. He is always on the move in the box and if you do that you are going to score goals and that is why he got his first two.”

Newcastle's strike force may not appear to have the same quality as many of their rivals but Ba, Leon Best and Shola Ameobi have more than made a fist of plugging the gap amid speculation that Sochaux's Modibo Maiga could finally join them in January.

Ba and Best in particular have formed a formidable partnership, and the former is quick to point to the role played by his side-kick in his recent success. Ba told Newcastle's official website: “He's a good strike-partner. He is strong, he can hold the ball and I just come around him and play football. That's nice.”

Ba's eight-month lay-off while at Belgian side Mouscron was a particularly frustrating time for the striker. He is married and has a young son.

FACTFILE Name: Demba Ba Position: Striker Club: Newcastle D.O.B: 25/05/85 Senegal caps: 10 Senegal goals: 3 Senegal debut: v Tanzania, June 2007 Moment to remember

Scoring a hat-trick at Stoke, who had refused to sign him for medical reasons.

Moment to forget

The striker was reportedly involved in a brawl at West Ham's end-of-season dinner, when he claimed he was racially abused by a fan.

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