Newcastle fans are currently relieved they have managed to pull seven points clear of the relegation zone, but were reminded today that things used to be much different.

On this day 17 years ago, Newcastle were pulling off the miraculous feat of qualifying for the second group stage of the Champions League, after losing their opening three games – the first side to do so – with a last-gasp win at Feyenoord.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having lost away games at Dynamo Kiev and Juventus, with a home defeat to Feyenoord sandwiched in between, qualification never looked likely.

But following all three defeats with wins in the reverse fixtures, Newcastle achieved the impossible, and made it through.

Craig Bellamy scored in injury time in the first half and Hugo Viana grabbed a second four minutes after the break, to put the Magpies in command.

(Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

But they conceded twice to leave the game, and an unlikely qualification, in the balance.

Bellamy, however, repeated his first half feat, by squeezing in a low shot from a very narrow angle in the 91st minute, to send the travelling Toon Army delirious.

Memories of better times for many Newcastle fans

Proof that footballing miracles do happen, and even though they eventually finished third in the second group phase, behind Barcelona and Inter Milan, it was a campaign that would live long in the memories of fans.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

And memories are all those Toon fans are left with. Reminiscing about greater times, when ambition and hope were in abundance on Tyneside.

Ambition has been replaced by survival, and hope has become disillusionment and protest. It was a fact many fans were quick to point out when the club’s official Twitter account posted a reminder of that great night in 2002.

Here are some of the replies:

 
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