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Best aiming for Shearer mould as Magpie

A SHEARER or a Luque? That's the scenario facing Ireland international striker Leon Best as he leaves behind life at Coventry City and swaps it for a place in the goldfish bowl that is Newcastle United FC.

Best, who was born in Nottingham but went to school in Dublin, has this week ended a long period of speculation about his future by joining Newcastle, in a deal said to be worth £2m. Newcastle have spent, spent big and spent unwisely on strikers in the past: Alberto Luque cost the Magpies a staggering £9m and delivered just one Premier League goal while Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins were also costly signings.

So Best knows he has to live up to his price tag and try to emulate some of the club's great strikers of the past.

"I'll be wearing the No 20 shirt," said Best. "The No 9 shirt would have been great, but that's a shirt at this club that has to be earned.

"You can't just show up, pick it up and throw it on. If you wear the No 9 shirt at Newcastle, it must be earned on achievement and nothing else.

"I know about the tradition up here of centre forwards, and what they mean to the fans.

"The fans won't need me to remind them of who has done so well for them -- I admire players like Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand," added Best, delighted with his move.

"I hope to go straight into the squad for Cardiff on Friday. Now it's a case of training with the team, and seeing what the plans are," said the former Southampton and Notts County man.

"This is the best thing that could have happened to me," added Best.

"I heard little bits and bobs at the start of the transfer window that Newcastle were interested. When I heard it, then I knew if there was anywhere I wanted to go, it was here.

"They were my top choice. This club needs to get back where it was, and that is at the top end of the Premier League and in Europe, but we have to finish off the job, and I want to play my part in that."

Best was given a parting shot by the Coventry fans as he was booed when he was taken off in his final appearance for the club last weekend.

"I don't like that," said Coventry manager Chris Coleman. "You don't boo your own players. I don't care if Besty had a stinker or not, you don't do that -- it's rubbish."

Boos won't be far behind if the goals don't follow Best up to Newcastle.


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