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21/10/2002

I am sorry!

I am sorry!

Nicos Dabizas has apologised to the rest of the Newcastle United team for his fourth-minute sending off which was the major factor in the 5-2 defeat away to Blackburn Rovers.

Dabizas's red card was timed officially at three minutes 29 seconds - and taking into account the injury time it meant that United virtually played the whole game with 10 men.

Speaking for the first time about his dismissal, Dabizas told me today: "I did not have time to think about what I did.

"Yes, I handled the ball but it was just instinctive.

"Even if I had had a split second to think about it, I would not have done it. I don't feel sorry for myself, but I did feel sorry for the rest of the players and I have apologised to them and the manager.

"My sending-off was the vital factor in the whole game and I know that if it had been 11 against 11 then we would not have lost.

"Playing with 10 men was the worst thing that could have happened when we had so many players who had been away on international duty. The pitch was wet and the ball was travelling quicker.

"Yet I thought the rest of the boys were tremendous in the way they fought back.

"But it was just one of those days when everything went against us."

Dabizas is suspended for Wednesday's Champions' League game with Juventus at St James's Park after accumulating three yellow cards.

And his red card on Saturday means that he will sit out the derby match with Middlesbrough at St James's Park a fortnight tonight.

However, the Greek international pointed out: "This was my first card of the season in the Premiership and you have seen what affect it has had."

The first United player to console Dabizas at Ewood Park was Nobby Solano, who has been sent off twice in the last couple of seasons - at Tottenham and Ipswich - for handling the ball on the line.

But Dabizas added: "The difference between me and Nobby at Spurs and Ipswich was that his red cards came later in the game.

"I cannot remember a Premiership player being sent off after only three minutes before - and it will probably not happen again."

Dabizas has been out of luck lately, with Greece losing 2-0 to Dynamo Kiev in The Ukraine in the European Championship last weekend.

"We stayed in the same hotel as we did with Newcastle and the game went the same way," moaned the Greek international.

"But at least Greece managed to bounce back to beat Armenia at home in midweek." Nicos Dabizas 's red card is not the quickest in United's history.

Scottish international midfielder Jimmy Smith holds that unwanted honour after he lasted just 53 seconds in a Texaco Cup tie with Birmingham City at St James's Park back in December 1973.

There was a lot of bad blood between the two teams, who had also clashed in the League and the League Cup in the space of a week, and Smith broke visiting defender Paul Went's leg with a vicious tackle in the first minute.


Evening Chronicle

 

232 Appearances in England (175 for Newcastle United, 18 for Leicester in the Premier League and 39 for Leicester in the Championship). Total League-Cup-Europe appearances 550. National Team appearances 70. Goals total 40.