The 19-year-old was handed a first Premier League start by the Toon boss, and rewarded the head coach’s faith by smashing home the game’s only goal. Now, Bruce has recalled the first thing the teenager said to him afterwards.
“He’s been in and around my thoughts since China, really,” he said, as per the Shields Gazette. “He trains every day with a big beaming smile, he’s refreshing, wants to play. I’m delighted.
“The first thing he said to me coming off is ‘thank you’. It’s refreshing, and for him to say that after [what] he has just done.”
The younger Longstaff’s first experience of top flight football has been one of the most heartwarming stories we have seen in quite some time. As Bruce says, he’s been on the brink of making a breakthrough since the pre season trip to the Far East for the Asia Trophy, but has had to bide his time behind his brother, Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-yueng. However, with Hayden suspended on Sunday and the latter two underperforming this season, Bruce threw him in at the deep end. It certainly paid dividends, with the teenager scoring the winner in a sensational performance. He was just so busy, not giving the visitors’ midfielders any time on the ball at St James’ Park. The statistics show that he was absolutely everywhere. As per WhoScored.com, the youngster had 51 touches of the ball, the second most of any Newcastle player. With that he produced a key pass, a cross and seven long balls forward, five of which found their intended target. He also completed a tackle and an interception, embracing his defensive duties as well. Perhaps after that display it should have been Bruce thanking him, not the other way around.