Jacob Murphy reveals his feelings on facing twin Josh at Cardiff and what makes him smile at Newcastle
Jacob Murphy, every now and then, glances down.
Murphy, a boyhood Newcastle United fan, looks at the badge on the shirt – and smiles.
The winger won’t have to glance too far to have another reason to smile on Saturday.
Murphy’s twin brother Josh plays for Cardiff City, Newcastle United’s opponents.
The siblings – who came up through the ranks at Norwich City – have never played each other competitively.
Murphy wasn’t involved against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, but he hopes to tackle Cardiff – and his brother.
The 23-year-old, signed from Norwich last year in a £12million deal, is ready to kick on from last season, when he made 25 Premier League appearances for the club on its return to the Premier League.
“It was a good year for me – I got games under my belt,” said Murphy. “It’s about using that experience and building a better season this time.”
Murphy found his opportunities limited by the form of Matt Ritchie and Kenedy, signed from Chelsea on loan in January, last season.
“Looking back, I don’t see it as frustrating,” said Murphy. “It was a building block, learning about the league and about my team mates.
“It was great to run out in my first games, it felt special.”
Wembley-born Murphy grew up supporting Newcastle because of his family’s roots in the North East of England.
“I still remind myself of how big the club is,” he said. “I look down on the shirt and see the crest, and it makes me smile.”
Murphy’s twin joined Cardiff this summer. And the pair are as close as ever, despite the distance between them.
“We speak every day,” he said. “We’re big lads now, and we have to get on with our jobs. We never had a rivalry. We just supported and helped each other. We’d bring each other up if one wasn’t doing as well.
“We were there for each other. It was important at Norwich that I had his back and he had my back. We looked after each other. I find it strange how other siblings are so competitive, because me and my brother are not against each other.”
Murphy’s twin is also a winger. Are they similar?
“We’ll see come that second game,” he said. “Each club will say they’ve got the better twin. I’m ready for that. Our games are different, others say the same. He plays left, I’m on the right. We both play off either foot.”
The Murphys – who moved to Norfolk aged 11 – played for hour after hour in the garden.
“I always had someone to play football with,” said Murphy. “It stayed like that through our childhood. When we used to practice in the garden, we’d stick our little brother (Daniel) in the goal. It was nice to have a football buddy.
“We just loved the game, helping each other to get better. Aged 16 was when it started to become real, and we thought ‘wow, this could become a job for us’. And it did.
“We were born in London and moved to Norfolk. We lived there from 11 until I moved up here.
“We were both at the Academy together. It was strange, because one of us would have a good season one year, and the other one would have a lesser one.
“We kept getting kept on. At 15-16, we grew physically. That’s when we thought we could make a living at football.”
Murphy’s brother came off the bench for Cardiff in last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth.
And, as they always do, they pair will talk ahead of this weekend’s game, but they won’t talk tactics.
“We just want to play well for our teams and see what happens,” said Murphy, who netted one goal for Newcastle last season.
“We won’t talk tactics before the game. I want the three points and so does he. We’ll be giving nothing away. It’s a risky business to do that, and would not be fair on our teams.
“We will swap shirts at full time. Or maybe half time and have a go on each other’s teams!
“We have never played against each other competitively. It will be strange having to tackle him.
“The family will be torn. They have the Newcastle loyalty as fans, but also the son loyalty.
“They will both want us to have a good game and the best team to win. Both of us to score and a draw. I want a Murphy goal and a Newcastle win.”
Murphy is waiting to discover if he will be involved against Cardiff.
“The manager (Rafa Benitez) wants to break me in slow, and when he feels I’m ready, he’ll chuck me in,” he said. “I trust the manager on that.
“He gives me lots to learn. Defensive work, mainly, but also attacking movement off the ball.”
Murphy, however, is used to hard work, having worked in the family restaurant business as a teenager.
They did the pot wash at Arbuckles in Downham Market.
“Me and Josh used to work there on a Saturday night,” said Murphy, whose younger brother Daniel is due to start university next month.
“We’d be on the pot wash. That was good fun. I used to hate it. But it was my mum and dad’s way of showing us ‘look, if you don’t stick in at football, this is what you will be doing’.
“They did pay us. Two pounds and hour or something aged 14 or 15. It was to teach us some life lessons.”
Those life lessons have stood the Murphys in good stead.