'The balance was perfect' - why the class of 2002-03 was so special

Newcastle team at Juventus in the Champions League

Twenty years ago, it would have been very surprising to suggest Newcastle would have to wait two full decades before returning to elite European competition.

But what was it about that Magpies side that made them so special?

"The balance was perfect," former assistant manager John Carver told BBC Radio Newcastle. "We had the strong leaders of Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, Nikos Dabizas and Shay Given who were all big characters.

"Then there was the young group of Jermaine Jenas, Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy and Hugo Viana - what a player he was.

"That mix of youth and experience was so important. When we had difficult times, experience brought us through it. But then the young guys had no fear and that also helped us."

Former striker Lomana Tresor Lua Lua, part of that young group, agreed saying confidence was high in the camp.

"When we looked at the each other, we thought that on our day, we could beat anybody," he said. "We had enough to hurt teams, and everybody wnted to a big player.

"We had all the same dream and worked hard for it."

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