NEWCASTLE skipper Fabricio Coloccini believes he still has room for improvement despite revealing his pride at Alan Pardew’s comparison with Bobby Moore.
Coloccini’s monumental performance in the Wear-Tyne derby was laced with enough class to prompt Pardew to liken the defender to England’s World Cup-winning captain.
That meant a lot to Coloccini, although he said he measures himself against the standard set by his father Osvaldo – who played 16 years of unbroken top-flight football in Argentina.
That level of consistency is what he continues to strive for as he prepares to lead Newcastle into a crucial game against West Brom tomorrow.
He said: “I was very proud when the manager compared me to Bobby Moore.
“Bobby Moore is an important man in England so for me it is very good to hear the manager say that.
“I have to say thank you to the manager for that compliment, he was one of the best players ever to play for the national team.
“Bobby Moore is very famous in Argentina, he is famous all over the world because he is one of the best footballers of all time.
“For anyone to say I am like him makes me very proud.
“I didn’t have just one hero when I was young. My biggest hero was my father Osvaldo, because he played for 16 years in the first division in Argentina. In my career, my aim has always been to get to the level that he
was at. Is he better than me? That is always the question!
“It is maybe easy for a player to get to the first division, but it is not so easy to stay there for many years like he did.
“ I can say I’m better when I have played 16 years in the top division like he did.”
Coloccini has carved out a reputation for himself at Newcastle as a graceful defender, but his performance against Sunderland was impressive even by his standards.
He did not put a foot wrong all game and managed to contain one of the Premier League’s form strikers in Steven Fletcher.
Asked whether he was enjoying his best spell since moving to Newcastle, Coloccini remained modest.
He added: “I’m happy with my form but every day I try to learn new things.
“I have to keep working hard because every game is something different in England, you can take nothing for granted in this league.
“ If you stop working hard you can be found out and I know you have to stay focused.”
Tomorrow’s opponents West Brom are one of the few teams to give Coloccini the runaround since his debut season in England, their quick counter-attack style managing to unpick Newcastle in a Yuletide defeat last year.
Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie were lethal that day and Coloccini recognises the importance of shutting both of them out.
He said: “Tomorrow is a very important game,” he said.
“We must look forward now – we had a very nice result against Brugge and we are now top of our Europa League group but the Premier League is important and Sunday is a good chance for us to try to win and go up the table.”
Meanwhile, Pardew has hinted at changes for the visit of a team which inflicted a disappointing result on his United side.
He said: “It was one of my most disappointing games here last year. I thought we were too open and they hurt us on the break a few times.
“They have real pace so you have to be careful when you attack West Brom.”