Last Sunday, Shola Ameobi scored his 50th Premier League goal for Newcastle United. It was his 12th against Sunderland and 72nd in the Black and White jersey.
It was a clinical strike, much like the late equaliser against Spurs earlier in the season – and the latest chapter in the older Ameobi’s footballing career which he has pretty much dedicated to Newcastle United. Shola adores the club, it’s history and the fans. So, why don’t the fans give him more credit for his efforts?
Shola signed a pre-contract with the club at the age of 17 and has gone on to make 323 appearances, a huge amount compared to his average goalscoring record. However, the striker has never been a key frontman for the club. Players such as Shearer, Bellamy, Owen and Carroll have been ahead of our no.23 in recent years, and even now we have Cisse, Ba and Best who get the nod before he does.
He’s always had a “in the backseat” type of role, but remains a reliable servant until this very day. Many players would leave the club due to a lack of playing time (Michael Chopra one of the many examples). Shola probably realised many years ago that he was never going to be a prolific goalscorer at Newcastle and despite knowing this, he did not want to depart from the club he loved so much. In fact, the only time he’s had away from the club was his short loan spell at Stoke in the 07-08 season where he made just six appearances.
To say that Shola has done nothing but take up space over the years would be harsh, after all, he’s scored some vital goals for the Toon in his career. In the 02-03 Champions League campaign he scored two goals in the 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. On the last day of the 03-04 season he netted the much needed goal against Liverpool to ensure we qualified for the UEFA Cup. Shola scored 11 goals in our Championship campaign which helped the club seal promotion (the first against Nottingham Forest to break deadlock is a memorable one), and, as we all know, the mackem-slayer continues to slay. Maybe Shola’s most memorable goal was the equaliser he netted in the 3-1 loss against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, not many Newcastle players can say they’ve scored against the Spanish giants.
In the modern game, medals and trophies are everything and players force moves to realise their ambition. For our Nigerian-born forward, loyalty has been the name of the game as he made his own records. On the list of top ten youngest European goalscorers, he’s 4th thanks to his goal against Lokeren at 19 years and 275 days old. On the list of top ten European appearances for Newcastle, Shola is 5th with 37. On the list of top ten European goalscorers he is 2nd with 12 goals, only the great Alan Shearer is ahead of him.
Shola has put in a lot of work for Newcastle over the years, and has done so throughout injury troubles with his knee and hip. He has entered his twilight years with the club, and, at 30, he probably won’t be playing for much longer. The man deserves a testimonial for when he hangs up his boots and I believe he still has something to offer the club – be it on or off the pitch.
As he fired in a crucial late equaliser which meant remaining unbeaten for another season against the mackems, fans were once again made aware of the man’s talent and potential – even if not on show very often. The bottom line? He’s just a local lad who has lived out his dream of playing for his beloved Newcastle United.
A local hero in his own right and a man who deserves all the credit and more – because he delivers when the chips are down.
What are your thoughts on Shola Ameobi? Let us know, comment on this article or tweet @nufcfans.