It should have been the start of something.
Haris Vuckic scored his first Newcastle United goal, aged 20, on August 30, 2012.
It was a memorable strike.
Vuckic struck a first-time shot with his favoured left foot past Atromitos goalkeeper Charles Itandje at St James’s Park. The goal sent the club on a memorable Europa League journey that would end in a quarter-final defeat to Benfica.
Then-manager Alan Pardew had high hopes for Vuckic that season. So did many Newcastle fans.
But the technically-gifted forward suffered a serious knee injury a couple of months later.
It was a bad injury at a bad time.
Vuckic was sidelined for nine months and went on to spend the following campaign on loan at Rotherham United. More loans followed.
And the 24-year-old’s eight-year association with Newcastle ended today when he signed for Dutch club FC Twente as a free agent.
Vuckic, for all his frustration at the injuries that punctuated his United career, will always fondly remember the club and his years on Tyneside.
It was a shame I couldn’t continue and develop myself into an even bigger player and establish myself as a Premier League player.Haris Vuckic
“Newcastle will always be the first love,” said Vuckic, signed from Slovenian side Domzale in the summer of 2009.
“It’s been a long time, and the only thing I would change, if I could, would be the injuries, so I would have had more chance to show myself to the fans.
“Big things started for me at a young age. I was 19 when I made my debut against Fulham in the Premier League.
“I was very young, but big things started. For me, I don’t think my body was ready.
“Injuries came at bad times. I had a great chance to play a whole season, maybe 20 games, to show myself, but I was out for nine months.”
Ljubljana-born Vuckic’s only regret is that injuries stopped him making the most of the opportunity he had at United.
“It was a shame I couldn’t continue and develop and establish myself as a Premier League player,” he said.
“That’s the only regret I have is that the injuries stopped me.”
Vuckic – who also had loan spells at Rangers, Cardiff City, Wigan Athletic and Bradford City – is now keen to start a new chapter in his career in Holland.
“I know what I’m capable of, but the injuries stopped me showing that,” said the Slovenia international.
“I couldn’t get a good chance to show myself and what I’m about.
“I started really well when I came. My development went really high from the Academy and reserves to the first team, and then the injuries started.
“I’m happy now for a new page in my career.”
Vuckic scored nine goals for loan club Rangers in 2014-15 and also helped Rotherham and Wigan win promotions.
“All these loans and injuries made me stronger,” he said. “Some of the loans, like Wigan and Rangers, were really good. I played regularly at Rangers and scored goals.
“At Wigan, we were champions. I’m going to take all these things with me and try to help myself with that experience.”
Asked for the highlight of his United career, Vuckic said: “Probably the goal I scored against Atromitos.
“That goal put us through the qualification to the Europa League. That and my full debut against West Brom.
“I played quite a good game as well and hit the crossbar.
“Those memories will always stay with me.”
From now on, Vuckic will be a Newcastle fan.
“Whatever happened with me with those injuries, I will always feel love for Newcastle and I wish them the best,” he said.
“They are where they deserve to be and hopefully they are going to be successful. I hope they are going to do well in the Premier League.”