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.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:45 pm

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.

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Lubomir Satka playing for Lech Poznan against Benfica.
Lubomir Satka playing for Lech Poznan against Benfica.

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.

Newcastle United and Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

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.

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