Shola Ameobi has been talking about his career and life at Newcastle United.
He comes across, as always, as a really canny bloke.
However, I do think when it comes to his actual playing football contribution at Newcastle United, there is a rewrite of history being attempted.
Shola Ameobi actually appears to believe what he is saying and many fans seem to fall for it as well.
Somehow, Shola clung onto a place in the Newcastle squad until only a few months before his 33rd birthday, when he was released in summer 2014.
As to how he stayed so long at St James Park, he say: ‘I was always able to detach myself from everything and look at the bigger picture. That’s why I had the longevity I had at Newcastle.’
Well I think the truth is something quite different, for a striker who never managed double figures in the Premier League to stay all of his career at a club – it just doesn’t really add up.
Basically, he was seen as a cheap option to give another contract to, by both the Hall and Ashley administrations. Each time it happened my heart sank a little further.
Bottom line is a lot of people now don’t want to see the reality that his career very much mirrors that of Steven Taylor, yet the defender is seen as a joke now by many Newcastle fans. However, Taylor was a decent player at times in his Newcastle career and first choice for much of it (when fit!), unlike Shola Ameobi who never was first choice.
Kevin Keegan was the one manager who was prepared to cut the ties, sending Shola off on loan to Championship side Stoke in the second-half of the 2007/08 season, with a view to a permanent deal.
After not scoring a single goal, Stoke City sent him back, Mike Ashley then forced Keegan out and Shola Ameobi stayed for another six years! Only at Newcastle.
Joe Kinnear and Alan Pardew both gave the striker new contracts, I rest my case!
The way Shola Ameobi talks, you would think he had been an Alan Shearer figure, in terms of a 100% totally committed leader of men.
In a small minority of matches he looked as though he had the ability and in a few more Shola did have the desire – but his overall career at NUFC tells you otherwise.
He did show a lot of promise for Newcastle and the England Under 21s in the early days. Whether it was being asked to play on (in 2006 when aged 24) to help Newcastle to Intertoto qualification leading to the UEFA Cup, instead of having an operation he’d been waiting to have, that effectively ended his chances of being a decent (Premier League) player – we will never know. Shola had scored nine goals in 25 Premier League starts in 2005/06 but then his next best total in the next eight years was six PL goals, then four his next best effort.
Scoring a handful of goals against the Mackems has covered up an awful lot of cracks for many people.
A great bloke maybe but not a great player for Newcastle United.
Shola Ameobi speaking to The Guardian:
“The club (Newcastle United) is the pulse of the city. The result on a Saturday determines the vibe for that week. It can be great at times but, on the flip side, when things aren’t going your way, I’ve seen players who just can’t deal with it because it is that intense.
“I loved it – that friction of wanting to do well and, also, having to do well. I always cherished living in that bubble.
“It is important people understand it is not just about what the team does; it is how you do it. Ultimately, if the fans see you putting in the effort, they’ll always take you to heart. The club is bang in the centre of the city and it being a one-club town plays a big part, too. All you will see all week is Newcastle shirts. You don’t get that in many cities.
“I’m still helping out (at Newcastle United) on days off, Newcastle is home and it’s where I live, even if I stay down in Nottingham during the week. I work with Newcastle’s academy players, the schoolboys; from 12s to 16s. It’s doing sessions and working with the strikers. I am doing it when I can. It’s something I’m passionate about – I have been all my career – and it’s helped me, as well. It lets me see the game from a coach’s perspective. It’s really broadened my horizons.
“When I was in the Newcastle youth system, I was inspired by the guys in the first team and that’s what I want to do for these younger players. I feel there haven’t been enough players coming through the academies, certainly at Newcastle and, if I can improve the players there by one or two per cent, it’s something I feel obliged to do.
“I love the place, I’m from there and it’s what I’ve always known. In the future, I’m certainly open to it. It’s something I’m working towards now. I’m helping the young kids and, even if I’m not an official part of it, I will always be there to try to help the younger kids coming through. Newcastle is a club that will always be a part of my life.
“For every Newcastle fan, it is the pinnacle to beat the Mackems and for me to score that many goals against them – it endeared me to the Newcastle fans and I am forever grateful for that.
“I didn’t do anything different for those games. It was just destiny. The volley in the 5-1 stands out. It was just the occasion, the atmosphere and the technique was very hard. To be able to produce that in such a setting was very fulfilling.
“Being from Newcastle, I was always keen not to get myself immersed in it all because it’s very easy to lose your head.
“I was always able to detach myself from everything and look at the bigger picture. That’s why I had the longevity I had at Newcastle.
“As a young player, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the whole business of: ‘This is you.’ I find my identity not in what I can do but who I am.”
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