AN emotional Kevin Nolan thanked Newcastle United’s supporters for giving him an “unbelievable” reception on his return to St James’ Park.
Nolan was warmly welcomed back to Tyneside and was applauded at the end of the contest despite his 39th-minute winner, which was stabbed home at the same end where he scored many of his 30 goals in black and white.
The former Newcastle skipper opted not to celebrate his strike out of “respect” for them and that was repaid by the vast majority of United’s supporters.
“I can’t thank the fans enough for the reception I got. It was absolutely unbelievable, “ he said.
“I had an absolutely fantastic time here. I love Newcastle and love everything about it – I made so many friends here along with my family. My boy is a Geordie, he was born here.
“It was a fantastic performance by us and I was delighted with the goal. I would just like to thank the supporters for everything, but especially the reception I got.
“It was a perfect scenario for me to score the winner. It was quite emotional when I did score the goal; I had a little moment with Mark Noble afterwards. I did say I was never going to celebrate scoring against Newcastle and I never will. If I move on from West Ham I would never do it against them either.”
Nolan (pictured above with Jonas Gutierrez) was sold to West Ham after contract negotiations broke down in the summer of 2011 but said he had not returned with a point to prove.
“I left Newcastle on great terms, Alan (Pardew) was absolutely fantastic to me. We still share the odd text here and there. Just before the play-off final he gave me some great words and support and I’ll always have that with him,” he said.
“He was fantastic with me when he was here. He was honest with me, I was honest with him and you can’t really ask for any more than that. It was nice to hear that.
“I would never, ever slag off Newcastle because I loved every single minute of my time up here – apart from the relegation of course.
“But it was nice to hear the support. The fans have been really good to me, it’s nice to be back and it’s nice to see some old faces. I will have a nice Sunday and I’ll catch up with my old friends tonight.”