The North East of England has a history of producing top players, Paul Gascoigne and Michael Carrick, to name but two.
But talent in a football-obsessed region has dried up recently as Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough have struggled.
But their next star is about to burst onto the scene in Elliot Anderson.
The 19-year-old has just signed a long-term contract at St James’ Park as the Toons have identified him as the most talented player to emerge from the academy in years.
It didn’t always look good for Anderson as his Newcastle career struggled to come to life.
He made his senior and Premier League debut aged 18 under Steve Bruce and with Newcastle struggling for results and form he did not feature again that season.
This despite Bruce being impressed with Anderson.
He told reporters in January 2021: “He never seems rushed. Everything is effortless for him and easy.
“I’m very happy with his progress and we hope he can do us good during the season.”
But despite this lack of playing time, members of the Toon believed Anderson to be the most technically gifted player in the academy since Gazza.
England relegated to Nations League with Italy defeat to spark huge World Cup concerns
Lafferty kicked out of Northern Ireland squad after appearing to use bigoted language
‘Maguire could have one leg and still be picked’ – Jordan rants about Toney’s snob
Toney ruled out of England squad for Italy game with Maguire and Bellingham to start
Claims De Bruyne could be PL’s best midfielder labeled ‘ridiculous’ with Gerrard’s backing
Man United star Eriksen scores screamer from 25 yards in Nations League clash
He was tearing up youth football and was comfortable in a number of positions, but he needed some first-team action.
Several young Premier League players have failed to play on loan in the EFL or National League after excelling against players their own age.
So it was a big test for Anderson, and it was crucial to see if he would sink or swim.
Nothing came to him in the summer of 2021, but the start of this year turned out to be his big break.
Former Toon midfielder Joey Barton was in desperate need of a late addition in the transfer window.
So he contacted former Newcastle team-mate and loan coordinator Shola Ameobi to see who had the Magpies.
Barton was briefed on Anderson and a loan to Bristol Rovers was arranged.
It would be an inspired move for the Whitley Bay and Barton born striker.
When the Scottish youth international arrived, Gas were mid-table with promotion to Ligue 1 looking a long way off.
By the time he left, Barton’s team had grown and Anderson was a hero.
In 21 games, he scored eight goals and set up five more, while Rovers only lost three games he played.
After a 1-0 victory over Colchester United, in which he scored the winner, Anderson was compared to Argentine legend Diego Maradona by Barton: “I listened to the Bill Shankley tapes a lot today.
“He talked a lot about a 19-year-old Diego Maradona and how he slows down in the penalty area, just like Elliot Anderson does. (He is) such a talent.
“Elliot was brilliant for us from day one we brought him in. I would have paid to watch him tonight – he was so good. He grew into the shirt and his goal capped off an outstanding performance.
Barton also revealed that Anderson earned the nickname “Billy” after North East-based fictional character Billy Elliot because he was like a “ballerina” with the ball.
But his best moment came in his last game for Rovers.
Barton’s men needed to win by seven goals against Scunthorpe United to earn automatic promotion to League One. They trailed 6-0 after 80 minutes, and the boy Geordie appeared with the crucial seventh in the 85th minute.
The gas latched on, and Anderson had.
He returned to Tyneside and had half the Championship chasing his signature during the transfer window.
Eddie Howe gave him a chance in pre-season and he didn’t disappoint. Anderson played against Benfica and Atalanta in the number eight role and never looked out of place.
His performances and an injury to Jonjo Shelvey ended EFL clubs’ hopes of signing him and he has impressed in his cameos off the bench so far.
He has come on as a substitute three times this term and came close to scoring a winner against Wolves when he smashed a header over the bar in the dying moments.
Against Crystal Palace, he teased and tormented Joel Ward while creating several chances which his teammates missed.
He has been capped by Scotland at Under-21 level but is now seriously considering a move to England with the Three Lions watching him closely.
The North East has been a region hungry for an outfielder with similar abilities to Gazza, but Anderson is the real deal, and Howe is the perfect man for him to flourish.
Certainly the Newcastle boss is excited about the 19-year-old, and we should all be too as he has everything he needs to reach the top.
Watch the World Cup with talkSPORT
At talkSPORT, we’re powered by fans, so come join us for the ultimate World Cup fan experience this winter – at the talkSPORT fan zone.
In a huge covered room under the arches of Waterloo in London, we will bring you live screenings of every World Cup game.
There will be Q&A with talkSPORT talent, you’ll be part of our live shows and plenty of food and drink will be on offer too.
Come and have the best World Cup fan experience in London – and enjoy a free pint – with tickets for the England and Wales group stage matches on sale now HERE!