The classy Euro 2020 defender who never made the grade at Newcastle United
Newcastle United fans will be very familiar with one name on Slovakia’s teamsheet.
Martin Dubravka has been the club’s undisputed No.1 since he joined the club, initially on loan, in 2018.
The goalkeeper, however, has an international team-mate who’ll be familiar to some fans too.
Lubomir Satka is now a regular for Slovakia, who play Poland in Russia today. The technically-gifted defender spent five years at Newcastle earlier in his career, and Alan Pardew felt that he was equipped to progress at the club.
Then-manager Pardew dubbed Satka a “young Fabricio Coloccini” in 2014 after naming him on the bench for a Premier League game at Anfield.
"Lubo is, for me, a player beyond his years – he's very calm," said Pardew. "If you were going to look at a young Coloccini, you've got to say that's Lubo. He's so level-headed, and technically good. He's got a great chance for us. We've really got our fingers crossed for him."
It wasn’t hard to see why Pardew made the comparison between Satka and then-captain Coloccini.
Slightly-built Satka, an elegant, intelligent centre-half who came up through the ranks with the likes of Freddie Woodman and Adam Armstrong, was handed a long-term deal by Pardew.
However, Satka, signed from United’s one-time Intertoto Cup opponents Dubnica in 2012, didn’t progress to first-team football at the club, though he did make one substitute’s appearance in an FA Cup tie.
“It’s the last year of my contract, so I’m basically fighting for a new deal and to try to impress the manager,” said Satka in the summer of 2016 after reporting back for pre-season training.
Satka wasn’t able to make a breakthrough under Rafa Benitez, and he left for Dunajska Streda in his homeland after a spell on loan at York City.
A move to Polish club Lech Poznan followed two years ago, and, today, Satka is a key player for club and country.
Newcastle fans watching Slovakia will, of course, be closely watching Dubravka, but it’s worth also taking a look at Satka, a classy player who had to take a step back in his career before moving forward.