Michael Newberry programme article
Posted : 1st March 2021
Last month Linfield announced the signing of 23 year-old Michael Newberry. Once compared in style to England international John Stones, the Geordie can play across the back line but has mainly played as a central defender in his career to date and he kicked off the interview by sharing his feelings of delight at joining The Blues.
“It feels great to be a part of this historic Club and I know it will be an amazing experience when the fans return inside Windsor Park again. Linfield as a Club have ambition that matches mine and to be working again with the manager and his assistant manager Ross Oliver was also a big factor, as I know them through the Northern Ireland youth setup previously. The move was raised to me by my agent and as soon as I heard Linfield were interested, my mind was made up and I rejected other offers from elsewhere.
“If I had to describe myself, I would say I am an aggressive footballer who likes to play good football. I like to play out from the back with the ball when I can.”
The Blues made a move for Newberry upon the expiry of his contract at Icelandic club, Vikingur Olafsvik, before he signed an 18-month contract with the Danske Bank Premiership champions. A former winner of the ‘Wor Jackie Award’ - named after the great forward Jackie Milburn who incidentally was one of the greatest players to ever wear the Linfield and Newcastle United shirts and is awarded to the most impressive youth talent at Newcastle United each year - Michael was clearly very highly rated at the Magpies where he made 14 appearances for their U23s. However, excessive training led to an injury which ultimately ended his nine years at the Club, before he moved to Iceland for senior competitive action.
He joined Vikingur Olafsvik in 2018 when they were a second division team in Iceland. In his two-and-a-bit years with the Club he made 72 appearances as a full-time professional. Last season he was named as the Club’s ‘Player of the Year’ and attracted interested from some of the biggest clubs in Iceland. We asked him about his experiences in Iceland and given the weather in Northern Ireland has been miserable since his arrival, we also asked about comparisons in how he finds it.
“Playing in Iceland was a fantastic experience and no doubt made me a better player. Going there I felt it was important for me to play competitive men's football full time. I was in the gym every single day to get stronger and fitter and learnt a lot playing over 65 games in my three seasons there. Iceland has some excellent clubs and facilities which have developed a lot of players who have went on to further their careers in bigger leagues like in Italy and Russia.
“The weather in Iceland at times was horrific but it wasn’t as bad as people tend to imagine. The summertime over there is beautiful and I got sunburn after a few games, so I think Iceland’s weather is similar to here in Northern Ireland.”
Michael is a Northern Ireland Youth International, having represented the under-19s and has made under-21 squads. Incidentally, his agent is former Northern Ireland International midfielder David McCreery. Michael explains his own connections to the country below.
“I have links to Northern Ireland through my dad’s dad. He was a Linfield supporter born and raised here, then met my grandma but unfortunately, he died when I was very young, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet a lot of my dad’s side of the family from Northern Ireland. I still have family in Dungannon who I plan to see when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.”
It’s fair to say there are better times to move to another country than during a period of lockdown, however Michael says he has settled well and is solely focused on getting up to fitness, given that he hasn’t played since the Icelandic league ended in October.
“Despite the restrictions, I have settled in well. The people at the Club have been fantastic with Cammy Palmer and I since we arrived in January. Even if we are limited to what we can do socially, I don’t think I would be doing much different to what I am currently doing.
“Obviously, I haven’t played for a few months, but my fitness is getting better by the day and I am working with the staff to do extra running and get as fit as possible without getting injured. I can’t wait to get back on the pitch and hope to hit the ground running when the chance comes.
“I have ambitions to be a starter in the team but that’s down to me to put the work in. My main goal is for us to win as many games as possible with the team so that we can hopefully win trophies.”
A very warm welcome to Windsor Park to Michael and we wish him every success for his time ahead at Linfield Football Club.