The former Arsenal midfielder has detailed how two legends are inspiring his career, and how he’ll never be brought down by racism social media messages, because he gets so much love from fans too
Image: Newcastle United via Getty Image)
Joe Willock wants to equal Alan Shearer’s record of eight goals in eight games for Newcastle – and revealed the role Thierry Henry has played in his career.
The £25m new Toon signing wants to start against Aston Villa this weekend and extend his run of seven goals in seven games that he started last season when he was on loan.
The former Arsenal midfielder has singled out Shearer’s all-time-great rival Henry as his idol for showing him the way as a player and coach when he was a teenager at the Emirates.
Willock was a sensation for Newcastle at the end of last season, helping the club away from a relegation fight into 12th place, with five wins in eight games.
Newcastle United via Getty Image)
He has explained why he has to quit Arsenal for the good of his career, and try to become “one of the main players at Newcastle”.
Reflecting on his new career so far last night, Willock said: “Alan Shearer is a legend and he is one in Newcastle and around the world. I looked up to him and he was an amazing player.
“To be talked of matching his record is an amazing feeling, but getting three points and our first win of the season is the most important thing at Aston Villa. I would be chuffed to do it and make a record in my own career.”
But while Shearer is the all-time top Toon idol, Willock has his own legend.
He added: “My idol is Thierry Henry, a person I used to watch all the time and get inspired by.
“When he came to Arsenal as a coach we had a great relationship.
“I learned so much. He has an elite mentality, hates to lose and has fight and drive instilled in him and he is an amazing person.”
He admits it was a wrench to leave Arsenal where he has been from the age of four and a half.
Willock added: “I had the option of staying at Arsenal or looking for other avenues. Newcastle were top of my list and there was only one place I was going to go.
“It was all about the whole feeling that I got when I played in front of fans and stepped out at St James’ Park. It never left me.
“After I left in the summer it was always in my heart and mind that there was something missing and that was Newcastle United.
“The thing that pushed me to sign was the fans and the strong connection. I was getting lots of messages on social media showing they appreciated me.”
However Willock also revealed the dark side of social media by revealing he regularly gets racist messages.
He added: “I get messages every day about my colour and it is disgusting.
“Instagram and Twitter need to step up and eradicate it. They have not put up enough of a fight for us. It can’t be going on any longer. You have to try to ignore it. These disgusting things come on to your phone. It hurts speaking about it.
“It comes to the thing, if I come off social media I lose connection to the wonderful fans who are supporting me and want to see my life and have a connection. I considered it but I don’t want to lose that.
“I also saw Alan Shearer’s tweets which inspired me to come to Newcastle.”
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