Papiss Cisse during the Ligue 2 match between Amiens and Sochaux in Amiens, France, May 2023.

7 former Newcastle players we can’t believe are still playing in 2023

Newcastle United have legions of former players still doing their stuff in 2023, but some are definitely more surprising than others as this list demonstrates.

Players from the Championship-winning campaign of 2009-10 and Alan Pardew’s fifth-placed finishers from 2012 are still knocking about. There are players signed under Kevin Keegan still playing, for heaven’s sake.

We’ve identified seven former Newcastle players who are still playing professionally in 2023.

Papiss Cisse

Cisse isn’t just a Newcastle hero; the Senegalese striker is the personification of the ‘streets won’t forget’ footballer that has illuminated the Premier League.

Signed in January 2012, when Newcastle were surprisingly challenging for a Champions League, Cisse scored 13 goals in 14 matches including that effort against Chelsea.

Despite remaining at Newcastle until relegation in 2016, Cisse never quite maintained that level of goalscoring but remained a favourite on Tyneside. He moved to China with Shandong Luneng, before a two-club spell in Turkey.

Now 38, the striker is a free agent but hasn’t hung up his boots after leaving Amiens in the summer. He scored 10 goals in 23 appearances for the Ligue 2 club in 2022-23 and has recently been replaced by fellow Newcastle old boy Andy Carroll.

Gabriel Obertan

Obertan made just 58 league appearances for Newcastle over five seasons, and has since embarked on an interesting journey that’s taken him to Dagestan, Hungary, Turkey and, err, Wigan.

The 34-year-old is currently at American third-tier outfit Charlotte Independence.

James Perch

Valued for his versatility, Perch helped re-establish Newcastle as a Premier League club under Chris Hughton and Pardew, making 81 appearances across three seasons on Tyneside.

Sold to Wigan in 2013, the Englishman spent the next decade in the Football League with the Latics, QPR, Scunthorpe and Mansfield. Seriously, you could’ve turned on the EFL Show on any given Saturday night and Perch’s face would’ve been beamed back at you.

In September 2023, Perch signed for Northern Premier League Premier Division club Ilkeston Town at the age of 37. He will play alongside former Reading striker Leroy Lita.


One of two signings that made Kevin Keegan quit in September 2008, Xisco cost an eye-watering £6million to purchase from Deportivo La Coruna. He wasn’t worth it.

The striker quickly became seventh choice in a relegation-battling side and Newcastle were thwarted in their attempts to sell him after four months by FIFA’s regulation that players cannot be registered to three clubs in a single season.

He would somehow remain on Newcastle’s books until 2013, shunted out on a variety of short-term loans, and helped Codorba return to La Liga after a 42-year absence shortly afterwards.

Deep into his 30s, Xisco now plays for Majorcan side Atletico Baleares in the Spanish regional leagues.

Kevin Keegan shouts instructions during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James' Park, Newcastle, May 2008.

READ: The story of Kevin Keegan’s farcical second coming at Newcastle United

Nacho Gonzalez

Alongside Xisco, Newcastle’s signing of Gonzalez in 2008 proved incredibly controversial.

In October 2009, a Premier League tribunal found that the loan signing had been against Keegan’s wishes and was in breach of his contract, resulting in a compensation payout to the former Newcastle manager.

The deal was reportedly done by Dennis Wise and Mike Ashley as a ‘favour’ for two South American agents, the grubbiness made even more apparent by Gonzalez’s lack of impact at St James’ Park.

After just two appearances in England, the former Uruguay international has enjoyed a nomadic career that’s included spells in Greece, Belgium, Spain and Uruguay.

Now 41, Gonzalez is still playing for Montevideo Wanderers in Uruguay’s top flight. Fair play.

Mike Williamson

Williamson spent six years at St James’ Park, playing 169 times and impressing the Newcastle faithful with his commitment to the cause.

After spells with Wolves and Oxford, the centre-back moved to Gateshead in 2018 and was appointed player-manager a year later. He remains in the role for the National League club at the age of 39, though his appearances on the pitch are increasingly few and far between these days.

Rob Elliot

Goalkeepers go on forever, but we were surprised to learn Elliot is still only 37. Seriously. We’d have put our life savings on him being in his mid-40s by now. Anyway, Elliot is also at Gateshead in the dual role of technical director and goalkeeper.

Upon his appointment in the summer of 2022, the former Republic of Ireland international said: “I want to use my experience at football clubs to put a structure in place, hopefully to try and generate the fanbase and make the club as sustainable as possible.”

All very worthy aims, we’re sure you’ll agree.

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