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    5. Geordie gladiator Dan Byrne turns Newcastle's wildest dreams into ecstatic ..


    Geordie gladiator Dan Byrne turns Newcastle's wildest dreams into ecstatic reality

    Newcastle United player Dan Burn celebrates scoring his second goal. Photo: Reuters/Lee Smith

    He stood alone with his arms outstretched, his hair so wet that it stuck to his forehead, his shirt wet, a mixture of sweat and rain dripping from the tip of his nose and chin.

    Dan Burn stood and looked through the water falling from the night sky, first at the Newcastle bench and staff, clenching his fists and teeth, shouting his approval, and then at the stands.

    On his face there was an expression of joyful amazement with a tinge of stunned disbelief.

    It was the image of the night: a giant Geordie gladiator, basking in the glory of a goal he had just scored.

    All he could see was a writhing mass of ecstasy as people screamed, hugged, jumped. and fell on top of each other. His friends and his family would be lost, their faces and limbs consumed by a thousand different celebrations that came together to form a mighty tribal roar.

    The stadium shook, glass, steel and concrete absorbed the noise and vibrated under the load.

    Byrne was denied the instant euphoria his thunderous header deserved. He failed to rush to the corner flag, go crazy, punch or slide off his knee like Miguel Almiron did after scoring the first goal of the night.

    He was deprived of this moment of madness, but it was special in its own way. A different but unique evening as Newcastle scored four goals and took a chainsaw to European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain.

    Newcastle thought they had scored but weren't sure. Sandro Tonali, who had the best view of the ball's flight, was convinced to head it, a magnificent, unstoppable leap to the far post, rising high and bending over the hapless defender tasked with trying to prevent him from reaching Bruno Guimarães's deflected cross. , had already crossed the line when Gianluigi Donnarumma tore it away.

    The title was a cruel act, but at the same time beautiful. Burn jumped early, he hung in the air, no matter how gravity tried to bring him back to the grass, his head made firm and sure contact with the ball and it flew towards the goal.

    If he had crossed the line ? Of course this crossed the line. The flag of the assistant referee stopped any celebrations in their infancy. Byrne had no idea whether he had scored his team's second goal or not.

    He ran up to the dugout in his characteristic manner, bouncing, his long legs and body moving as if he were limping slightly. He took a long sip from his water bottle and waited for Var's check to complete. This went on for some time, even too long, but Tonali was there all the time. The Italian knew, the Italian was sure.

    The goal is counted, the offside decision is overturned. Burn was left alone for only a second or two. Fabian Schar, who scored Newcastle's fourth goal with a fine curling strike from 20 yards later, got there first. Then Tonali and finally Sean Longtuff, his Geordie colleague and child fan who scored the team's third goal early in the second half.

    Dan Byrne was surrounded by a crowd of his Newcastle teammates. Photo: Reuters/Carl Recine

    It was a night where two Geordies' childhood dreams came true, we were there just to experience it with them. Two local boys, two Newcastle United fans, who got everything they ever dreamed of and watched it become a beautiful, ecstatic reality.

    We got it all wrong. Instead of worrying about how Burn would handle PSG, we should have been talking about how PSG would handle Dan Burn. PSG were emasculated under the lights of St James' Park, the vaunted Kylian Mbappe overshadowed by a player who returned to his native north-east via Darlington, Yeovil, Wigan, Fulham and Brighton.

    Mbappe was no longer the same to a player who wants to be a PSG player, but Burn never wanted to be anywhere else. And it showed up.

    “It’s crazy, it still hasn’t come through,” Byrne said. “I'm a little speechless. We wanted to entertain the crowd and support them, but we succeeded. Scoring is amazing. When the flag went up I was gutted. I was so angry at Bruno's throw but it came back and as soon as it was in the air I just went for it.

    Fulham let me go at 25; to come back and play Champions League football makes me very proud. It's like a dream. I'm waiting for someone to wake me up…”

    The only thing Burn will find difficult to do after this is sleep. It wasn't a dream, he just had this feeling before.

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