The greatest Newcastle United XI of the 21st century - including big Nick Pope and Callum Wilson decisions

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Picking the greatest Newcastle United of the 21st century, including a £40m buy and a 134-cap star

Newcastle United have experienced everything in football since the turn of the millennium. When the 90s ended and the 2000s were rung in, Sir Bobby Robson was in charge at St. James' Park and was taking the first steps in revitalising the fortunes of the club he supported as a boy.

Since then there have been Champions League nights, Wembley appearances, a UEFA Cup semi-final, numerous managerial appointments, two relegations, two takeovers - but crucially, still no major silverware, with two Championship title wins and an Intertoto Cup win (which was rewarded with a plaque) acting as the only 'trophies' Magpies supporters could celebrate.

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Despite their lack of relative success, there have been some eye-catching names that have worn the famous black and white stripes and carried the hopes of the St. James' Park faithful during that time. So, we donned our tin hat and put together the greatest Newcastle United side of the 21st century...

Goalkeeper: Shay Given

Shay Given was a crucial player for Newcastle in their last Champions League campaign. (Getty Images)Shay Given was a crucial player for Newcastle in their last Champions League campaign. (Getty Images)
Shay Given was a crucial player for Newcastle in their last Champions League campaign. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

The former Republic of Ireland international saw everything over a decade at St James Park. FA Cup Finals, Champions League appearances, a run to the UEFA Cup semi-finals, a takeover and numerous managerial changes. Current number one Nick Pope runs him close in this selection - but Given just edges it.

Right-back: Kieran Trippier

Was described as a game-changing signing when he swapped life with the La Liga champions for a battle against relegation into the Championship. Trippier has proved to be one of the most inspired signings in the recent history of the club and is a real leader on and off the pitch at St. James' Park.

Left-back: Olivier Bernard

This proved to be a tricky one! Jose Enrique and David Santon had their moments in Magpies sides since the turn of the century and current left-back Dan Burn has proven to be a shrewd addition. But Bernard came from nowhere and helped Newcastle to two top four finishes and formed a fine partnership with Laurent Robert so we have opted for the Frenchman.

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Centre-back: Jonathan Woodgate

The defender was sold to Newcastle amid significant trouble at Leeds, he later joined Real Madrid.The defender was sold to Newcastle amid significant trouble at Leeds, he later joined Real Madrid.
The defender was sold to Newcastle amid significant trouble at Leeds, he later joined Real Madrid.

It was short and sweet for Woodgate's time at Newcastle but he showed his unquestionable class during that spell on Tyneside. Injuries may well have limited his appearances but when he was on the pitch he had a transformative impact on Sir Bobby Robson's side.

Centre-back: Sven Botman

Botman was a key target for the Magpies from the moment the PIF-led consortium took the keys at St. James' Park. Their patience paid off when the Dutch defender put pen to paper in the summer of 2022 and he has shown why the Magpies hierarchy were so keen to get him to the club with a remarkable level of consistency.

Right wing: Nolberto Solano

Quite simply, the Peruvian international can go down as one of THE bargain signings in the club's recent history. Arrived as a relative unknown from Boca Juniors, but twice left as something of a cult hero. Deadly from set-pieces and such an intelligent player.

Centre midfield: Bruno Guimaraes

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The signing nobody thought could be made but one that has reaped major benefits for the Magpies. The Brazil international has proved integral in the recent renaissance at St. James' Park and could be a key component of United sides for years to come.

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Centre midfield: Yohan Cabaye

There are many players that could be put in alongside Guimaraes and the likes of Kieron Dyer, Gary Speed and Cheick Tiote could all come into that conversation. But the impact made by France international Cabaye on a Newcastle side still only in their second year back in the Premier League was significant.

Left wing: Hatem Ben Arfa

This is purely down to entertainment! Ben Arfa was frustrating, there is no doubt about that, and there are probably several players more deserving of a place in this side. But on the days when he was at it, the French winger was unplayable and provided Magpies supporters with some moments that will live long in the memory.

Striker: Alan Shearer

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Some will say Shearer's prime was before the turn of the millennium but the Magpies legend transformed himself with great affect after suffering a number of serious injuries. After returning to form following Sir Bobby Robson's appointment, Shearer led the Magpies into the Champions League and remained a goalscoring threat until the moment he scored his 206th and final goal for the club in a 4-1 win at Sunderland.

Striker: Callum Wilson

Could have been Craig Bellamy or it could have been Demba Ba. But we have opted to Wilson, who should not go unrecognised for a remarkable consistent output in front of goal in a Magpies side that has not always created numerous chances. The England frontman averaged just under one goal in every two games for Steve Bruce and continued that record under Eddie Howe. A return of 45 goals in 96 appearances should not go without recognition.

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