Andros Townsend has claimed being outcast at Tottenham is the reason he can now score free-kicks as good as the one he bagged v Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The winger curled in a powerful left-footed attempt in a vital 1-0 win for the Magpies, having arguably his most important impact for the Tyneside club since linking up with them in January.
It has been a fantastic turnaround for the 24-year-old, who, just a few months ago, was out of favour at White Hart Lane and being forced to train with the second team.
However, Townsend – whose work ethic has never been brought into question – used this time to further his own career, spending time after practice to work on his set piece delivery.
Townsend said: “At the back end of last year, I used to stay out for hours practising free-kicks, left foot then right foot.
“It was frustrating, but all that hard work on the training field eventually pays off. It paid off in dividends against Palace – in front of 52,000 fans.”
It was while an outcast that the Magpies invested £12million in Townsend’s services, and the winning goal against Palace has been his most telling contribution of an impressive start on Tyneside.
He said: “I have scored goals when we were 5-0 down and 3-0 down, then a third goal in a 3-0 win against Swansea. But this is what you live for, moments like this when your team really needs it.
“I’m glad to repay the faith and hopefully in the last two games, I can contribute with more goals and assists.”