When you’ve represented France on 48 occasions, shared the field with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co at PSG, not to mention winning the Ligue 1 title alongside Eden Hazard at Lille, it’s unlikely that too many Crystal Palace players will make your all-time XI. James Tomkins or Thiago Silva? It’s not much of a choice.
Yet, it’s testament to the strength and star quality of Alan Pardew’s fifth-placed Newcastle United side of 2011/12 that three of Cabaye’s team-mates from that remarkable campaign earn deserved positions in his star-studded line-up.
Fuzzy-haired Fabrizio Coloccini enjoyed his most consistent spell on Tyneside immediately after Pardew’s appointment while the maverick charms of Hatem Ben Arfa and the goalscoring might of Demba Ba ensured The Magpies were a side to be feared.
And, in January 2012, they were joined by France international right-back Mathieu Debuchy, a star at Euro 2016 and a real coup at St James’.
No wonder Cabaye remembers his time on Tyneside with such fondness.
“Mathieu was my team-mate for many years [at Lille and Newcastle]. We played together for ten years. I was really happy when he came to Newcastle because I like him! I knew he would help the team with his quality,” the current Crystal Palace midfielder told Match of the Day magazine when picking his one-to-eleven.
“[Coloccini was] a great captain and a fantastic defender. Lots of quality and technique. [Ben Arfa was an] unbelievable player. Fantastic skills and could win a game by himself!
For me, [Ba] was one of the best strikers in the box and just around the box. His mentality was also amazing. If you want to get a player who sets an example, he is the right one, because his mentality was perfect and his quality also.”
The fact that none of the aforementioned quintet are currently plying their trade at St James’ goes some way to explaining why Newcastle now find themselves in the second tier rather than fighting for European qualification.