Meet the ex-Newcastle defender who is having a blast in India

Peter Ramage
Peter Ramage

There’s already a chill in the air on Tyneside.

And chill winter winds will soon be blowing through Barnsley’s Oakwell home, where ex-Newcastle United defender Peter Ramage has spent the past two years.

Not so in Kerala, India, one of the global game’s newest – and most exotic – footballing outposts.

There, it’s hot and wet, and it’ll only get hotter. It’s a long way from Barnsley and Berwick-upon-Tweed, where Ramage grew up.

Ramage has signed for Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters, managed by one-time England coach Peter Taylor. World Cup and European Championship-winner Carlos Marchena is another of Kochi-based Kerala’s signings, while Ramage’s former Newcastle team-mate Michael Chopra – whose father was born in India – played for them last season.

Ramage, however, didn’t expect to find himself in south west India a few short months ago when he was contemplating his future.

It was a dream come true to play in front of 52,000 (at St James’s Park). It’s something I’ll always cherish. It’s helped me cope with things in my career.

Peter Ramage

“It wasn’t something I was thinking about, but I got a phone call out of the blue,” said Ramage, who made his Newcastle debut just over a decade ago.

“Peter Taylor asked me if I’d be interested when I played in a testimonial game.

“I didn’t have much time to think about it. I spoke to a few people, and just thought it would be a great opportunity. I’d regret it if I turned it down. It’s going to be a great challenge. Last season there were World Cup-winners and players who have played at the highest level left, right and centre.”

“ It’s something I’m really looking forward to. I want to be part of it. Hopefully, it’ll grow over the next few years, and I’ll have played my part.”

The hardest part for Ramage will be being separated from his family in England.

“Being away from them is going to be the hardest thing,” he said. “They’ve been brilliant, really supportive. They know I have to do this.”

Ramage – who made 69 appearances for United –remains thankful for his grounding he got at United.

“I’m a Newcastle supporter and always will be,” said Ramage, nicknamed “Rambo” by fans of former club Crystal Palace.

“I went when I was 10 years old. It was a dream come true to play in front of 52,000. It’s something I’ll always cherish. It’s helped me cope with things in my career.”