Sincere apologies to Daniel as this article should have featured but fell off the table due to illness etc. We still think it is very much worth publishing and reading. 

The words ‘Spider-Man has retired’ are probably not ones that have ever been used to start a football-based article before, and yet here we are.

Two weeks ago former Newcastle United midfielder, Jonas Gutierrez retired from professional football. This is a man, who in my opinion, has well earned the status of being a Newcastle cult hero. Signed in 2009 from Mallorca, he failed to make an immediate impact on Tyneside, as Newcastle were relegated in his first season at the club.

The following year, his contribution was much more profound. Some great performances and stunning goals from the Argentinian helped to catapult Chris Hughton’s Magpies straight back to the promised land. In particular, I recall one goal against Barnsley in a 6-1 thumping of the Tykes. I was at that match and remember being absolutely delighted to see my favourite player score a great goal and then pull out the famous Spider-Man mask for his celebration.

I should probably mention that Jonas was my absolute hero at this point in my life. They always say never meet your childhood heroes. You’ll be let down, they say, and meeting them won’t be as good you’d hope it would be.

This is not something I experienced with Jonas.

Let me take you back to the 23rd of December, 2009. I was nine years old, and obviously, very excited for Christmas. I was in Newcastle with my parents, helping them with some last minute present shopping.

Now if memory serves, my mam had gone off somewhere, most likely to buy something for either me or my dad without either of us knowing what it was. As a result, I was walking around Fenwick with my dad.

I will admit, to meet Jonas Gutierrez was not on my Christmas list that year, but it may as well have been. I had always loved Spider-Man growing up, and all of a sudden here was a Newcastle player who donned his mask after scoring a goal. Perfect.

I always thought he was a very talented player, too. Someone who could beat his man and score a great goal, and the goal against Barnsley proved that.

Anyway, back to the story and back to Fenwick. I remember boarding an escalator with my dad and looking up where the moving metal stairs were taking us. In my eye-line were a few men, and one in particular, with long, dark hair, and plenty of facial hair too, who looked familiar. I told my dad to have a look, and he confirmed to me the news I was hoping for.

On the escalator above us was Jonas Gutierrez – Spider-Man himself. Naturally, the next aim was to get a picture with my hero, which as we reached the top of the escalator, was what my dad asked of him for me. He happily obliged, before wishing us both a merry Christmas.

Whilst it was only a brief encounter, his eagerness and willingness to stop for a moment and make my day is something I will always remember with great fondness. So if you’re reading, Jonas, thank you.

Back on the pitch, good performances continued to come. In 2010/11 and 2011/12, Newcastle finished 12th and 5th in the Premier League respectively, and in that time Jonas made a habit of scoring against Wolves. Keeping with his theme, the goals he scored were belters, and naturally as his number one fan, I was loving it all.

Then, in 2013, disaster. Jonas was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and subsequently returned to Argentina to have his left testicle surgically removed. Upon his return to Tyneside he was almost immediately shipped on loan to Norwich for the remainder of the 2013/14 season. We would later discover he was not selected for the Newcastle side due to the treatment he was undergoing, and won a lawsuit against the club regarding the matter. Simply awful.

Treatment continued during 2014, which until the September of that year was kept quiet until our very own superhero conducted an interview. It highlighted that he was now receiving chemotherapy and had lost all of his trademark hair. It was a devastating sight to say the least.

Thankfully of course, Jonas made a full recovery and returned to the Newcastle first team in March 2015 as a substitute at home against Manchester United. It was a special moment. His fellow countryman, Fabricio Coloccini gave him the captain’s armband to mark his return. Having not played for so long at this level it was immediately obvious that he became tired quickly, and received a booking for a late challenge on Adnan Januzjai. This was met with a shout from the East Stand I’ll never forget, directed towards the referee.

“You heartless bastard” was the cry; met with great laughter.

As the season drew to a close, Newcastle’s performances under the best coach in the league, John Carver, became increasingly terrible. We went from a side comfortably mid-table to suddenly fighting relegation. It came down to the final game of the season, where either Newcastle or Hull City would be relegated. Hull, who were managed by some bloke called Steve Bruce (I wonder what happened to him), had to defeat Man. Utd and hope Newcastle did not beat West Ham.

Of course, as we all remember, Newcastle did defeat West Ham, and escaped the drop. A second half header from Moussa Sissoko got the Magpies on their way, before the man of the moment, Spider-Man, the man who knows the true meaning of survival (to quote the Sky Sports commentator that day), Jonas Gutierrez, scored a vital second to condemn Hull to relegation and save Newcastle. Unbelievable, Jeff.

That would be Jonas’ last game for Newcastle, and what a send off. His career continued in his native Argentina, until just this week when he brought it to a close. Quite the story, for quite the man.

There is a new Spider-Man film coming out next month, and according to speculation, all three incarnations of the character will appear in it. Sounds good. Here on Tyneside however, we know that there is four, but only one who is a real superhero.

Daniel Wales – @danielwales23