Anthony Gordon: Newcastle winger now fulfilling his potential after European U21 Championship success

An Everton player since the age of 11, a first home goal in the black and white of Newcastle would have brought equal joy to his family as the blue half of Merseyside for Anthony Gordon.

The 22-year-old’s long wait to open his St James’ Park account had grabbed a headline that would be rewritten by a man famous for missing big chances. Darwin Nunez would have his day, but Gordon didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.

“It’s hard to take, really,” he said following Liverpool’s stunning 2-1 comeback win at St James’ Park. “You have to go through it to be able to understand it.

“It is just really disappointing as the game started so well and we were in a really good place. We just couldn’t get the second goal and, against a top team, that’s what you have to do.

Anthony Gordon's Newcastle attacking output

“We played really well and created the chances, but we just weren’t clinical enough. That is what’s going to separate us from the top teams and is something we really need to focus on improving. If we can do that, we can beat anyone. I took my chance well, which felt amazing, but it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Gordon, but the breathlessness of Super Sunday has subsided, and a degree of perspective has been regained on Tyneside ahead of the trip to face Brighton, live on Sky Sports, this Saturday.

Saturday 2nd September 5:00pm

Kick off 5:30pm

Sat in the Milburn Stand was Gareth Southgate, the England manager. Southgate was taking in his final dose of Premier League football before naming his squad for the forthcoming Euro qualifier against Ukraine and Scotland friendly next month. There was plenty of English talent on display.

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Gordon opens scoring after Alexander-Arnold mistake

Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn, Harvey Barnes and Callum Wilson were all looking to impress for the hosts while Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Harvey Elliott all featured for Liverpool to add to Southgate’s intrigue.

But it was Gordon who stood out. His opening 25 minutes in particular were electrifying, with Alexander-Arnold fortunate not to be sent off. It was his pass which led to Virgil van Dijk’s sending off, and his finish was clinical. Gordon can count himself unfortunate not to have been a surprise inclusion in Southgate’s September squad.

Given how effective West Ham were at targeting makeshift right-back James Milner as a weak link in Brighton’s 3-1 defeat last weekend, how Gordon performs this weekend could have a huge bearing on the outcome at the Amex Stadium.


It is a different player to the one that flattered to deceive at both Everton and Newcastle last year. With a bit of patience and a bit of confidence, suddenly Newcastle are beginning to look like they have a talent on their hands.

Gordon scored on the final day of last season at Chelsea

Speaking last Sunday, Gary Neville said: “Gordon didn’t settle straight away here but he now looks like he’s got his legs and his confidence.”

Gordon scored his first Newcastle goal on the final day of last season during a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and the player appears to have turned a corner. Despite commanding a fee of £45m back in January, he certainly doesn’t view himself as the finished article.

Gordon is set to make the 50th start of his Premier League career on the south coast. Running at 35.7kph, only Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (36.1) has registered a faster speed this term. Furthermore, he is the joint-most fouled player in the division (10) – level with Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew.

His impressive work ethic was apparent on the pitch during the summer’s European U21 Championships in Romania and Georgia, where Gordon was named player of the tournament.

“I’m delighted and over the moon,” the winger said following England’s victory over Spain in the final.

England's Anthony Gordon looks on during the Euro 2023 U21 Championship semifinal soccer match between Israel and England at the Batumi Arena stadium in Batumi, Georgia, Wednesday, July 5, 2023.(AP Photo/Tamuna Kulumbegashvili)
Gordon took on greater responsibilities in the summer

“I feel as though I’ve had a good tournament and I don’t want give the cliché because it’s the truth – me winning the [player of the tournament] trophy was down to my team-mates and the staff.”

Gordon scored twice on his England U21s debut nearly two years ago under Lee Carsley, who made nearly 200 appearances for Everton during his playing career and retains strong ties with the club.

Gordon is indebted to Carsley for helping shape his career and is now building a strong relationship with Howe, who has shown his ability to improve players for all that can be said about Newcastle’s financial muscle.

“There is a ‘but’ with him,” Jamie Redknapp said six months ago. “He had 65 Premier League games at Everton, scored seven goals and only managed three assists.

Anthony Gordon of England celebrates after scoring vs Portugal
Gordon scored twice and was named player of the tournament

“For the money Newcastle have spent, I want to see a lot more. I want to see more assists and more goals because he’s got that potential. There were times at Everton where he got me out of my seat, but now he needs to be doing a lot more.

“If he’s going to go right to the top level, he needs to be scoring more and providing more assists.”


At Everton, he was in a struggling side at a club with a high turnover of managers. At one stage last season, following a 2-1 home defeat to Southampton in January, Gordon was stopped from leaving Goodison Park in his car, as fans set up a barricade on the street.

Now, all seems settled under Howe at St James’ Park where Gordon’s focus can solely be on competing for a first-team start.

Gordon scored four goals from 34 shots last season
Gordon scored four goals from 34 shots last season

In an interview with my colleague Nick Wright in November 2021, then aged 20, Gordon spoke about his strengths and his quest for greater attacking output.

“I’m relentless and consistent every single day in terms of trying to improve myself and coming in and working hard. It’s just been about maturing as a player. Hopefully I can be consistent with my performances. That’s my goal.”

This time last year, as the end of the summer transfer window approached, there was significant interest from Chelsea, then managed by Thomas Tuchel. Everton rejected a bid in the region of £40m. Earlier that summer, Tottenham had wanted to sign the player in a package deal with Richarlison for a combined £80m.

Graeme Souness said at the time: “£40m for a 21-year-old who has played 51 times in the Premier League? He’s not set the heather on fire yet.

“He’s a dribbler and he’s quick enough. For me, he goes to ground a bit too easily but that’s a lot of money for someone who’s only played 50 games. It’s not screaming at you when you see him play that he’s going to be a top man.”

Anthony Gordon celebrates his goal against Liverpool
Gordon celebrates his goal against Liverpool

Gordon hasn’t been distracted by his critics and he didn’t complain when Everton dug their heels in, either. He would score in back-to-back away matches at Leeds and Brentford, and he would eventually get his move to Newcastle in January.

Speaking after the the Magpies’ 5-1 victory over Aston Villa on the opening weekend, Andros Townsend told Sky Sports: “I played with him at Everton in the first half of last season, and I think he struggled going from local academy boy to a top winger who is expected to produce.

“He lost the fearlessness he had as a young kid in one-v-one situations. He started to think, ‘what if I lose it? The fans and the media will get on my back’.

“He went away with the U21s in the summer and he’s got his confidence back. He’s back to being the Anthony Gordon that broke through.”

A feisty, forward-thinking Gordon is what Howe wants in his team.

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Dougie Critchley and Henry Hill from Football Daily discuss Gordon’s success for Newcastle this season after a slow start at the club

Taking the fire out of his belly would be counter-intuitive, as was seen towards the back end of last season when – as a substitute at Brentford – the winger was subsequently replaced before the final whistle.

“His enthusiasm, aggression and motivation levels are really high. He’s fiercely determined to do well and achieve. It’s one of his hallmarks and it’s one of his strengths.

“We want to embrace that and we love that about him. In certain moments, he needs a cool head as well.”

Off the pitch, Gordon is quite the opposite. He is quiet and reads books in his spare time. It is over three years since he revealed to this writer he was reading Dr Steve Peters’ ‘The Chimp Paradox’, which provides a mind management programme that helps elite athletes to conquer their fears and operate with control, focus and confidence.

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England U21 manager Lee Carsley insists he hasn’t thought about the next step in his career after leading the side to European Championship success

Channelling the ‘good voice’, as Dr Peters outlines, can be seen whenever a ball is at Gordon’s feet.

“He’s different when he crosses the white line, and that’s what you want,” says Howe. “You want good people off the pitch, good role models and good professionals that are living their life right to try to be successful.

“On the pitch, you want people who absolutely want to win and do everything in their powers to try and achieve that.

“If you take that away from him, he’s not the same player. He just needs a little bit of refining around the edges.”

Champions League nights are moving ever closer to a return on Tyneside, but the bread and butter of beating Brighton this Saturday will be Newcastle’s sole focus.

Judging by the opening few weeks of the season, Gordon is reborn and ready to take every challenge in his stride.

Will Newcastle avoid making it three defeats from three games? Watch Brighton vs Newcastle live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday to find out.