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I have no axe to grind, says Didier.

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Didier Domi last night denied that he had an axe to grind with Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson despite an unsavoury conclusion to his United career.

The talented French full-back can expect an uncomfortable afternoon in front of the Magpies' travelling support when he makes his league debut for Leeds on Sunday - two-and-a-half years after he quit Tyneside under a cloud.

However, Domi is delighted to be back in English football and is at pains to point out that he never had a problem with Robson's training methods, despite reports to the contrary in the Paris media.

"I want to make things clear about Newcastle now that I have the opportunity to do so," explained a player who famously went awol following a trip home in December 2000.

"I have gone crazy thinking about some of the things that were written about me back then and I want to set the record straight.

"I have no problem with Sir Bobby Robson or the Newcastle supporters but one day something was written in the newspapers and my United career was over.

"Playing at St James's Park was very beneficial for my career and, until the last few weeks, I had a very good time there. As soon as I returned to France I realised what I was missing and that is why I always wanted to come back to the Premiership.

"I don't feel I have anything to prove (to Newcastle) because everybody knows me there. I will be happy to meet with the players and the coaching staff again.

"I enjoyed working with Sir Bobby and have absolutely nothing against him." At his best Domi was one of the most exciting full-backs to have pulled on a black-and-white shirt during the last decade but as a Ruud Gullit signing he appeared to drift into his shell under Robson and never enjoyed a close relationship with the current Magpies' boss.

A fiercely religious man, the Paris-born defender became a loner in the latter weeks of his Newcastle career and even grew apart from his closest friends within the United dressing room.

Robson, contrary to popular opinion, rated Domi highly as a player and once suggested he could mould the Under-21 international into the new Roberto Carlos, such is his pace and eye for the overlap.

Peter Reid's close-season signing still maintains contact with Nikos Dabizas and is close friends with former PSG colleague Laurent Robert, adding: "They tell me everything but I have never lost touch with what's going on up there.

"Newcastle have improved dramatically during the last two years and they were always a big team. It's the atmosphere created inside grounds like St James's Park which made me want to return." Meanwhile, United midfielder Hugo Viana was yesterday named in the Portugal squad for next week's friendly against Kazakhstan in Chaves and Newcastle's Steven Caldwell and Brian Kerr are in the Scotland squad for the Euro 2004 warm-up against Norway in Oslo.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 15, 2003
Words:498
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