Mum’s the word as Eddie Howe prepares for Wembley occasion

Eddie Howe will return to Wembley on Sunday with his late mother firmly in his thoughts.

The 45-year-old could be just 90 minutes away from succeeding where even Geordie folk heroes Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson failed by bringing a first major trophy back to Newcastle since the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

However, as he walks out on to the hallowed turf at headquarters ahead of the Carabao Cup final clash with Manchester United, he will cast his mind back to the day his mother Anne took him there as a child.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe visited the old Wembley Stadium as a child
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe visited the old Wembley Stadium as a child (Louisa Buller/PA)

Howe said: “She took me for a tour around Wembley as a five, six-year-old, lifting the fake FA Cup, walking out with the fake crowd noise. She was there doing that with me.

“My football opportunity is all down to her, really, so certainly during this week, I’ll be thinking a lot about her and the part she played in my life.

“But those memories as a kid, I’ve never forgotten that day. Wembley for me was an amazing place, a place I was desperate to come back to in some capacity in football.”

Howe’s mother, who died in 2012 after a short illness, was a single parent who raised her children – the Newcastle boss will have his three brothers and sister among the crowd on Sunday – while holding down multiple jobs in order to provide for her family.

Her work ethic and dedication are traits he has inherited, and he insists she is due much of the credit for the adult he has become.

He said: “I’d say 99.9 per cent is all down to her because she was my driving force as a child. She was a massive, massive influence on me, and I’m doing everything now really because of her.”

Howe has enhanced his reputation significantly since accepting Newcastle’s offer of employment in November 2021.

The club’s Saudi-backed owners turned to the former Bournemouth boss after then Villarreal manager Unai Emery had rebuffed their advances, and the coaching dossier he had compiled during his time out of the game has since been put to spectacularly good use.

Eddie Howe in action for Portsmouth
Eddie Howe in action for Portsmouth (Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

However, leading a team sitting in fifth place in the Premier League out for a major final would have seemed a very distant prospect the day Howe was forced to retire as a player at the age of 29 having battled for five years to come back from a serious knee injury suffered during his time at Portsmouth.

In the depths of his despair, Bournemouth asked him to to head up the club’s centre of excellence and much to his surprise, he was hooked instantly, later managing the Cherries on their rise from League Two to the top flight.

He said: “I got the coaching bug, and it was a coaching bug that I never thought I’d get because I just felt I was a bit too shy to do it.

“I was just passionately then trying to seek every resource that I could to try to understand coaching more because playing and coaching, as I’ve said many times, are totally different skills.

“Although you think as a player you know what you’re talking about, the reality is you finish playing and you realise you know nothing, so I was starting from zero and then trying to smother myself with information.”

Victory at Wembley would represent a major landmark in Howe’s career, but that would be secondary for a man who has swiftly become embedded in a city desperate for success.

He said: “Hopefully my work over time will prove that I’m good enough or I’m not good enough, but I think there’s a bigger picture here. This is for Newcastle.”