‘I never thought’ – Newcastle United birthday boy outlines ambition after eye-opening week

Birthday boy Dylan Stephenson was one of the breakout stars from Newcastle United’s trip to Saudi Arabia this week.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Stephenson, who turns 20 today [Saturday, December 10], was one of five Newcastle academy players selected as part of Eddie Howe’s squad for the warm weather training camp in Saudi Arabia. The trip included a friendly match against Saudi Pro League champions Al Hilal on Thursday evening.

Joe White, Alex Murphy, Jay Turner-Cooke and Lewis Miley joined Stephenson in Riyadh with all five of the youngsters getting on the pitch during the match as The Magpies cruised to a 5-0 win.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Braces from Joelinton and Miguel Almiron in either half put United 4-0 up as Stephenson replaced Allan Saint-Maximin in the 77th minute. And less than 10 minutes later, the forward got on the scoresheet as he turned in Ryan Fraser’s cross after initially releasing the winger down the left.

Dylan Stephenson of Newcastle United. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)Dylan Stephenson of Newcastle United. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Dylan Stephenson of Newcastle United. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

"I was absolutely buzzing when I saw the ball hit the back of the net,” Stephenson told the club website following the match. “It's a very happy moment for myself and my family. I'm absolutely delighted about it as well as the team getting a good win.

"It was a bit of an awkward finish. I was trying to get as focused as possible to make sure I got a good connection on the ball, which I did, and then it went in.

"I thought when I played the ball through to Ryan, he'd go on to score and I would've been happy to get an assist so I was really happy that he pulled the ball across to me.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Joining the academy at the age of 14, I never thought I'd come all this way and to score my first goal for Newcastle United is an unbelievable moment.

"Getting my first goal for the first-team gives me a massive boost of confidence. In the near future, hopefully I can be involved in some cup competitions and it would be another good moment for my family."

Read More
Newcastle United player ratings v Al Hilal: Two 9s and several 8s as ‘strong’ su...

Stephenson made his non-competitive debut for Newcastle’s first-team as a substitute in the 1-0 pre-season friendly win over Atalanta at St James’s Park back in July. He has since scored five goals in 10 Premier League Two Division Two outings for Newcastle’s Under-21s side.

But the experience of working alongside established professionals and head coach Eddie Howe for a week in Saudi Arabia is an experience the young forward certainly feels he has benefited from.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I've gained a lot of experience from the trip to Riyadh,” he added. “It's a massive difference between the first-team and academy level and I'll take a lot on board going back there. On or off the pitch, there's been so much to take from this week.

"I need to work as hard as I can and that can help to take me where I want to be. Having that first goal gives me a lot of hunger and determination."

Newcastle now return to Tyneside ahead of next Saturday’s friendly match against La Liga side Rayo Vallecano at St James’s Park (12:30pm kick-off).