Demba Ba recounts Ralf Rangnick meeting when asked about prospect of Newcastle United signing top players
Demba Ba has opened up on his goal-laden spell at Newcastle United – and backed more big-name players to follow in his footsteps.
Ba was back at St James’s Park for the Newcastle United Foundation’s United As One dinner last night.
The striker – who spent 18 months at the club – presented the Adult Learner Ward to Faiequl Alom.
Alom, unemployed, became isolated during the pandemic, but he went on to find work through the charity, and he now also volunteers at a grassroots club.
Ba scored 29 Premier League goals for Newcastle, and he was part of the team that finished fifth in the 2011/12 season.
“My memories are, more so than the results on the field, the enjoyment of coming to the training ground every day, and the stadium every other week, to play,” said the 36-year-old, who retired this year.
“That was tremendous, because the bond we had between the players was unbelievable, and then, outside the training ground, we were bonding the same way, but now with the fans. This is what helped us. It’s more than just football.”
Ba joined Chelsea in January 2013 after the club activated his release clause.
Asked if he had regretted leaving Newcastle, Ba said: “For most of the clubs I played for, I regret leaving, and for most of the clubs I played for, I would do the same choice signing for them, if that makes sense.
“For my career, it was a big step forward for me (joining Chelsea), and I would do it again, but I would have loved to have spent some more time at Newcastle.”
Ba left United to progress his career, but the hope is now on Tyneside that players can, in time, achieve their ambitions at the club following last month’s £300million takeover.
It’s been claimed that it will be hard to attract elite players to Newcastle, though Ba believes that the club, now 80%-owner by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, will be able to attract top talent.
“It all depends on what is presented to you, because, at the end of the day, you play football to play football, to do what you love the most, win titles,” said the former Senegal international.
"For me, when I left Belgium, I had a couple of teams interested in me, and I left for Hoffenheim, because, at that moment, Ralf Rangnick, he came all the way to Belgium.
"The way he spoke to me, the way he showed me the plan, and how they were going to move on over the next four, five years, I said ‘I can’t go anywhere else’.
"Hoffenheim has 3,000 people living there, it’s a village. So, for me, it’s not a big problem.
"You play football, and you have a whole life after if you want to enjoy other cities and stuff like this.
"But, yes, for certain people it might be something difficult, but the day Newcastle starts winning leagues and beyond, it’s not going to be a problem, I guarantee that.”