Michael Bridges
By Dan King – Newcastle United Digital EditorHe has spent the last five years living in Australia so former Newcastle striker Michael Bridges knows all about the passion for football Down Under.And the North Shields-born 35-year-old – who has just retired from playing with Newcastle Jets in the A-League – believes that will shine through at the Football United Tour 2014, which will see the Magpies head to New Zealand next month.The four-team tournament will be hosted by Wellington Phoenix, who play in the Australian top flight, and United will also be joined by fellow Barclays Premier League side West Ham and Sydney FC, where Bridges spent time on loan in 2007/08.

Alan Pardew‘s side face Sydney on Tuesday, 22nd July in Dunedin (kick-off 7.30pm local time) before taking on the hosts in Wellington on Saturday, 26th July (kick-off 4.30pm local time) with both games live on BT Sport.

Bridges – who made nine appearances for Newcastle in 2004 – told nufc.co.uk: “It’s a beautiful country.

“Wellington is famous for Lord of the Rings and it’s great to see that they’ve attracted these teams over to New Zealand.

“There are quite a few Newcastle fans over there. Liverpool and Man United are big in the Asian market but there are a lot of Newcastle supporters out there, and a lot of Newcastle supporters clubs.”

Happily settled in New South Wales, Bridges is now a coach at Newcastle Jets and explained: “I was helping out with the assistant manager role last year when our manager left and I really enjoyed it.

“I’m going to work towards my ‘A’ licence and go into the next transition of my life.

“Over there they’ve got a Wallsend, a Hexham, a Dudley and a Jesmond, so that made me feel at home when I first arrived there!”

Tickets for Newcastle United v Sydney FC in Dunedin are now on general sale viawww.ticketdirect.co.nz.

Tickets for a Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle United and Sydney FC v West Ham United double-header at Westpac Stadium in Wellington are available from www.ticketek.co.nz using the password OZUNITED.

Adult ticket prices start from $59 for general public with child tickets from $16. For more information, visit www.wellingtonphoenix.com.