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Bigirimana is living the dream
GAEL BIGIRIMANA'S career at Newcastle is only a few months old, but already the teenager is earning himself a big reputation on Tyneside.
The 18-year-old was part of manager Alan Pardew's summer recruitment drive, which was focused on bringing talented youngsters capable of making the step up to first-team level to the club.
The likes of Curtis Good and Romain Amalfitano also arrived as part of that policy, but it is Bigirimana that has wasted no time in making his mark.
Already, the teenager has played in the Premier League and Europa League and has impressed Pardew so much that he was preferred to £6.2million signing Vurnon Anita in Saturday's draw at Reading.
"This has been a dream come true for me," Bigirimana said, who was speaking at a community initiative assisting NUFC Foundation with coaching programmes involving Tyne Met College.
"I have played in the Premier League and Europe for Newcastle already. It's incredible.
"I'm always telling people that my life is not natural because amazing things keep happening to me. It is a miracle.
"I would tell Daddy that I would give him anything he wanted for me to have a good life and I do thank God for everything that has happened to me.
"The manager has thrown me in at the deep end and that has been good for me."
Bigirimana was at Complete Football in Gosforth coaching budding young players hoping to emulate his own success in the future. However, aside from offering football advice, the 18-year-old insisted it was more important to understand good values, something he has been brought up with.
He said: "It's not just about football. I tell them not to live life on the street, to stay away from the gangs.
"I don't see myself as just a footballer. I believe I have to give something back because I have been lucky in my life.
"The man upstairs helped me out. I call him 'Daddy'. I have my faith and my family. All my life I have surrounded myself with good people.
"I do see myself as lucky. I am privileged and I like getting the chance to speak to people about my experience."
While a lot of 18-year-olds in his position might be blinded by the fame and fortune that comes with playing football, Bigirimana admits that side of the game doesn't appeal to him and believes his religion helps keep him grounded.
"I don't like the word famous or idol for that matter," he said. I would rather be an inspiration than famous.
"Fame could make people look at me and think that I am different from them when I'm not.
"I play football in front of thousands of people, this is true. But you could play football in front of 25 people and it's the same. I'm not better than the guy who plays with his friends for fun.
"It might be a different level, but we are all people and we are all the same.
"So I will never think that I'm famous because then you might start acting in a certain manner and thinking you are someone special. I'd rather set a good example to others."