Newcastle United new boy Matz Sels highlights influence of former Belgian hero and Rafael Benitez on his move

Picture Supplied by Action Images

The Belgian goalkeeper says Newcastle are famous in his home country because of former star Philippe Albert.

Picture Supplied by Action Images

New Newcastle United signing Matz Sels has told the club's official TV channel that part of the reason he chose to join the Magpies is that the club are famous in his native Belgium because of his compatriot Philippe Albert.

Sels became Newcastle's first signing of the summer when he joined from Gent on Wednesday and he will hope to establish himself as the club's first-choice goalkeeper in the Championship next term.

The 24-year-old is thought to have turned down offers from other English clubs including Premier League sides such as Middlesbrough in order to make the move to St. James' Park.

Sels has followed in the footsteps ex-Belgium star Albert by moving to Tyneside and the stopper admitted that the former defender indirectly played a part in convincing him that Newcastle were the right club.

Newcastle's Philippe AlbertNewcastle's Philippe Albert

He told nufcTV: "In Belgium, if you say Newcastle, everybody knows Philippe Albert, so it’s really a big club in Belgium."

Sels also talked up the influence of Magpies manager Rafael Benitez on his decision to move to the Championship club, admitting that a large factor in his choice was the news that the Champions League-winning coach would be staying.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

The goalkeeper added: "When I heard he was staying as a coach here, it was really important for me because I think he has already won so many prizes. I had a call with him and my decision was made very fast.

"I hope I can learn a lot from him and also from the goalkeeper trainer, and I hope I can improve myself a lot here. It’s really important for me to train with Benitez. He has achieved so many things, he won the Champions League, and it was really important for me to have a good feeling with the trainer."

Newcastle fans will be hoping that Benitez can bring out the best in their new star, and that Sels can go on to become as much of a fan favourite as Albert was on the Gallowgate End in the 1990s.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

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