Shola To Join 100 Club – In Four Years Time
If ever there was a symbol of mediocrity at Newcastle United, it has to be the current incumbent of the number 23 shirt at the club, one Foluwashola Ameobi.
A neat strike for Nigeria against Italy on Monday night showed that, on occasion, Shola delivers exquisite touches of class – a trait that only serves to highlight the frustrating nature of the player.
Here is a 32 year-old striker in his 14th season as a first team player at our club, who has never managed an entirely convincing campaign free of injury, despite being at the centre of several memorable moments.
That sublime international strike had Super Eagles boss, Stephen Keshi, celebrating on the touchline like a teenager at a rave, as his side secured a morale boosting 2-2 draw against a strong Italian side. The super-strike sums our local lad up poignantly: 10% brilliant, 40% belligerent, 50% bovine on ice.
Through sheer mass of matches, Ameobi Senior continues to ever so slowly creep towards a century of goals for NUFC. At his current rate of about 5.5 strikes per season, it would take at least four more years for him to achieve the feat – probably breaking the club’s appearance record in the process.
That would place him among a select group, with only nine players having previously reached three figures for the Toon. It goes without saying that Sammy’s big bro would have by far the poorest strike rate of that collective.
I wouldn’t be surprised to witness a 36 year-old Shola Ameobi trundling around the St James’ Park turf in 2017, consigning Jimmy Lawrence’s record of 496 appearances further and further into the rear view mirror with each sedate cameo. His relatively low wage packet and local lad status just seem too convenient for our beloved owner to ditch him before he’s completely incapable of lateral movement.
That thought concerns me, as I consider ‘big Sholes’ synonymous with the seasons of unpalatable drifting and the one that ended with relegation, rather than the four top five finishes he’s been on the fringes of.
The fact that, for now, he seems to be our best option up top (with Remy) is more than a tad depressing. In an ideal world Mike Ashley will resolve that situation in January, with our resident Nigerian star calling it time on Tyneside after lighting up Brazil in 2014.
A dream move to a club such as Juventus would surely follow – well, if Jean Alain-Boumsong’s good enough…
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