Florian Lejeune signed a five-year contract with Newcastle United on Tuesday but the French defender initially thought the call from Rafael Benitez was a prank.
Lejeune started 33 times for Eibar in LaLiga last season as they secured a top-10 finish, and he did enough to attract the attention of Benitez ahead of Newcastle’s return to the Premier League.
And once the 26-year-old realised it was the real Benitez on the phone he said he had no doubt in making the switch, the coach playing a huge part in helping him make the decision.
“Getting a call from Rafael Benitez was absolutely amazing, and I could only say yes. It was like a dream,” Lejeune said.
“When I got the call, I thought it was a prank so I didn’t say anything. After a few hours, I said, ‘Yes, that’s Rafael Benitez’, so I had to say yes.
“He was very important to my decision. For many years, my career was going up and down and up and down.
LEJEUNE: “When I got the call, I thought it was a prank. After a while, I thought ‘yes, that WAS Benitez’ and I had to say yes.” #NUFC
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) July 6, 2017
“He’s a great coach. Everyone knows him and he has won lots of trophies – that is Rafa Benitez. Newcastle is a very big club with a fantastic history.
“As soon as Rafa phoned me, we had a good discussion and there was no question about whether to come or not.
“It’s always been a dream. I have played in Spain and France, and everyone was telling me that the English league was very important and very intense.
“I really wanted to come and play here, and hopefully I will be able to prove that I am worth it.”
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