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The latest recruit to Alan Pardew's side took a somewhat opportunistic route into life as a professional footballer and reveals he is now living a dream in signing for the Toon

Newcastle United's latest acquisition, Gael Bigirimana, has revealed his delight at joining the Premier League side, claiming it is a dream come true.

Bigirimani penned a five-year-deal with the Tyneside club following his departure from League One outfit Coventry City, for whom he made 26 appearances last season in the Championship, where he was one of the stand-out performers despite his club's relegation.

And the 18-year-old, who moved to the UK as a refugee from Burundi in 2004, admits he took an unusual route on the way to becoming a professional footballer.

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"I moved with my family and we lived in Coventry," he told nufc.co.uk.

"One day I was just going with my brother to buy some milk at Asda and then I looked to my right and there was this centre where the Coventry youth team Academy trained. There was something in me - like a voice - just said 'go and ask to train.'

"The next day, I went there and I just asked if I could train and stuff. They were kind of like, 'This is awkward, you can't just come in here and ask to train. We have to come and watch you and scout you if you're good!'

"So I gave them the name of my school and they told me 'If you've got a school match, we'll come and watch you.' I was excited - I was like 'yes, they'll come and watch me and I'll have my chance' - and I just started jogging off because I was excited.

"Then as I was running, they stopped me. They called me back and I thought 'there's no-one around me so it's got to be me that they're calling.' So I went back and they asked me: 'Are you good enough?'. I just said: 'Well you'll have to wait and see if you give me a chance.' They asked me if I had any shin pads and stuff and I said yes - but I didn't! The next day, I went and trained with them and from then it's just been an amazing journey."

But despite the Congo Under-18 international looking forward to a new life in the north of England, he remains forever grateful for the way in which his former club have developed him and made him the player his is today.

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"They have been like my second family because for the last seven or eight years I've been with them most of the time," he said.

"They're just like my family and they've changed me so much as a person and as a footballer. I used to be a centre-back but [Coventry Academy Manager] Greg Rioch said 'I don't want you to play there, I want you to play somewhere where there'll be bodies around because it's kind of too easy for you at centre-back'.

"And now I realise that's where I belong, in the middle. They were great people to have and they were like a great family.

"But you never get too many opportunities like this. It might come once in a lifetime and sometimes you just have to take it and go and learn. It might be hard but life is not promised to be easy so that's why I took the chance."

And Bigirimani, who gained plaudits last season for his hard-working defensive style of play, has the belief he can not only carry out that task for his new club but add an element of creativity to the side.

"I'm an all-rounder," he claimed.

"If I have to do a job for the team, I do the job for the team; if I have to play as a holding player, I'll hold; if I have to play more as a creator, I love creating and I love the style that Newcastle play.

"I'm a team player and to be around such good players, I will learn every day so hopefully I can break through."

Eligible to represent Uganda, Burundi and England as well as Congo, Bigirimani revealed how much it means to him to have the chance to be a player at a big club.

"When I used to look at footballers, I used to think 'they're just different people'," he admitted. "You see them getting interviewed, you see all the profiles before the match and you think they're on another planet.

"So for me to be doing this, it's like somebody's just having a laugh with me or something! But I've just got to enjoy every moment. It's a blessing."

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