Football at the 2020 Summer Olympics gets under way on July 22nd, and two former Newcastle United players will be competing for gold.
Just like Euro 2020, the Tokyo games were delayed due to the ongoing global pandemic, but will now take place this summer.
Football is once again one of the events, with under-24 sides competing for Olympic gold.
However, each team is allowed three overage players, which brings us to our former Magpies.
There are no current Newcastle players involved in the tournament, but two players who the club sold have been selected.
Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad is one of Spain’s overage players, while Florian Thauvin will represent France.
Both players arrived at Newcastle with promise, but left under a cloud of disappointment.
World Cup winner and tuxedo enthusiast Florian Thauvin heads to the Olympics
Thauvin was the first to arrive, signed in the summer of 2015 alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Steve McClaren was backed in the transfer market, but it backfired spectacularly.
Thauvin barely featured, spending most of his time wearing a fancy tuxedo or rearranging an out of place hair.
He clearly had natural ability, but didn’t get a chance to prove himself in a Toon shirt.
Less than six months after arriving he was gone, returning to Marseille on loan.
Thauvin is now placing in Mexico at the age of 28, and has the chance to add a gold medal to his World Cup winners honour from 2018.
Newcastle’s missed opportunity Merino set to play for Spain
Spain have an incredibly strong squad at the Olympic Games, and are one of the favourites to win gold.
They have six players from their Euro 2020 squad. On top of that, they also have Mikel Merino.
The 25-year-old is currently playing in La Liga for Real Sociedad after leaving Newcastle in 2018.
He only spent one year at St James’ Park, but showed flashes of his ability on the ball.
Merino was an unknown arrival in July 2017, signed on loan from Borussia Dortmund before joining permanently three months later.
Had it not been for injury, Merino might still be with Newcastle.
He was a class act in possession, strong and brave in the middle of the park.
His first start was one to remember, outclassing the much-hyped Renato Sanches in a win over Swansea.
Thauvin and Merino could have been stars at Newcastle. Sadly, they only managed 41 appearances between them.
Since leaving, they have both proven how good they are, much to the disappointment of Toon fans.
That disappointment will only be compounded further if either of them impress at the Olympic games.
Thauvin and France are competing in Group A alongside Japan, South Africa and Mexico.
As for Merino and Spain, they are in Group C against Argentina, Egypt and Australia.