The Argentina international returned to action in Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby and received high praise from his manager after helping secure a 1-1 draw against SunderlandAlan Pardew likened returning Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini to England's World Cup-winning captain, Bobby Moore, after the Argentina international helped his side secure a 1-1 draw away to rivals Sunderland.
The Magpies took an early lead at the Stadium of Light through Yohan Cabaye and, despite Cheikh Tiote's first-half sending-off, continued to dominate proceedings until the Black Cats equalised late in the game.
Coloccini was the away side's star performer until his withdrawal in the 79th minute and Pardew believes that Newcastle could have held on for the win had his skipper remained on the field.
"It would have been one of the greatest victories had we held on because 60 minutes is a long time with 10 men but towards the end of the game we started to tire and there were just too many crosses coming in," the Magpies manager told reporters after the game.
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"If you want an example of how a centre-half should play – where you have to head it, kick it, get in the right position and then have the calmness to play – then that's your example.
"I come from a famous football club in West Ham and it was like watching Bobby Moore today, he was terrific.
"If we had kept our 11 [men] on the field, he could have played the whole game, but because we went down to 10 it was just too much work for him and both calves tightened up."
The 51-year-old also conceded that Tiote's red card was justified after his high challenge on Steven Fletcher and insisted that he had no regrets about coming away from the game with a draw, despite Demba Ba's late own goal costing his side all three points.
"I've decided to accept it," said Pardew of the sending-off. "I know Cheikh and he's not tried to do the player – he's just late and the referee has deemed that a red. I think the fourth official had a role to play, as [referee] Martin [Atkinson] was behind him.
He added, however: "The whole day was a great day for us on the football side. When we had 11 men we were a class act and took the game to Sunderland. We got the goal at a good time and we looked like we were in good fettle.
"We spoke before the game about showing the fans how much the game meant to us as players and staff and [I thought we did] particularly when we went down to 10 men.
"The spirit and effort was unbelievable and I'm just disappointed we haven't taken all three points. And when you play with 10 men for 60 minutes, that's saying something."
|"The spirit and effort was unbelievable and I'm just disappointed we haven't taken all three points"
- Alan Pardew
Centre-back Steven Taylor was forced to settle for a place on the bench despite being touted for a return to the starting line-up before the game and Pardew warned the 26-year-old that he must first displace Mike Williamson before reclaiming his defensive slot.
"Why was [Taylor] an automatic pick for this team?" the manager observed. "Williamson has been great and made some great clearances today. This is a squad game and Steven has to earn his right to play in this team."