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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at St James' Park

Leadership qualities of former Spurs and Fulham players light up a night when Mbappe was eclipsed

Here is a question for Spurs and Fulham fans. Who among the players who left in the modern era do you wish you still had in the ranks?

For Spurs, Harry Kane. Obviously. But there are others. Others who have left and continued to reach great heights.

A couple of months ago one player made a strong case to be mentioned among the very best who got away.

It was only a cameo in the Champions League final in Istanbul, but Kyle Walker was so impressive as he helped get Man City over the line against Inter in a tight, tight contest.

Yet if there is another name that still has fans feeling wistful it is surely Kieran Trippier - now part of the Newcastle United revolution and finding himself back in the Champions League maelstrom.

On a night when the Magpies made a huge statement with their 4-1 win against a very ordinary-looking Paris St Germain, he was a proud figure.

He was, of course, part of the Mauricio Pochettino side that made it to the final in Madrid in 2019, and if it was felt his very best days might be behind him when he departed for Atletico Madrid - even if it was to an elite club - the 33-year-old is enjoying a thrilling twilight to his career.

The Geordies' vice captain is the sort of leader Spurs could do with even now. In the programme notes ahead of a pulsating first Champions League tie at St James' Park for 20 years, he spoke with the sort of authority that only experience of top end football can bring.

The man whose goal in Moscow in the 2018 World Cup semi-final put England in dreamland, is a man attuned to the big occasion: "We know it's down to us to decide what kind of season we want it to be. Only us players can dictate that," he wrote.

He was involved in the set pieces, in the cajoling and in the subduing of arguably the best player in Europe these days in Kylian Mbappe.

There was another leader for Newcastle though. One who Fulham fans would surely not hesitate in naming as one they wish was still around - a man who did not play nearly enough for them.

For the giant of a man at left back, this was truly Burn's night.

It seems like only yesterday Dan Burn was first making a name for himself by striding like a colossus at Old Trafford, repelling Man United attacks with a withering disdain. Afterwards he said it had been easy because they just kept giving him crosses to head away.

Against PSG, he was grit and determination personified. Ousmane Dembele proved livelier that Mbappe in Wednesday's encounter, yet still Burn refused to yield to the former Barcelona striker.

He stuck to him all evening and manhandled at every occasion - even when the ball was nowhere to be seen.

After one sliding tackle on Dembele, he was so pumped up that he couldn't resist giving it the full clenched-fist treatment to ecstatic Geordies fans, who could hardly believe how dominant their side was against one of the competition's perennial contenders.

On this occasion, though, the Qatari riches enjoyed by the French club were more than matched by the Saudi investment on Tyneside.

Burn seemed even more delighted with that block than with the towering header he put past Italian stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma just before half-time to make it 2-0.

Tackles and headers. His stock in trade. And none of it done without the brute force of a particularly angry hod carrier who takes offence at the sight of bricks. I think they call it warrior class.

The 31-year-old turned out 61 times for Fulham between 2011-16. Would that it had been a longer spell.

At the end of a magical statement-win night at St James' Park, both Trippier and Burn shone. They were the ones leading the team around for a lap of applause at the end.

For Mbappe, there was a consoling hug from Trippier. It was just about the only moment of generosity from the duo all night.


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