Shola Ameobi


By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

 

Shola Ameobi insists he has "given everything" to Newcastle United over the last 14 years, after being released by his boyhood club.

The striker rose through the Magpies' Academy to make his first team debut in September 2000, and since then has been a regular fixture in the black and white striped shirt.

However, after three short of 400 appearances and some famous goals along the way, Ameobi's time on Tyneside has come to an end.

And looking back over more than a decade's service, the 32-year-old is proud of not only what he has achieved, but also the outstanding commitment he has given United.

"When you grow up watching your heroes, you hope and pray that you get the chance to play for the team you support," Ameobi told nufc.co.uk in an exclusive interview.

"I've managed to live that dream and be a part of the history and fabric of this great Club.

"That is something I don't take lightly, and I fully appreciate how lucky I have been.

"I hope the fans realise that I have given everything for this Club - blood, sweat and my soul. Hopefully they can appreciate that.

"You have a lot of players who come and go but I have tried to be true to myself every single game and every single season, and I can sleep at night knowing I couldn't have done any more.

"What I have put on the table has been all of me, and I am very proud to be able to say that."

When it comes to highlights of his Newcastle career, Ameobi can point to seven Tyne-Wear derby strike, which earned him the affectionate nickname of the 'Mackem Slayer' from Magpies' fans.

There was also a memorable Champions League encounter in Barcelona, and plenty of good colleagues along the way to make the big Nigerian smile.

"Scoring at the Nou Camp is a big highlight , especially at such a young age," he said of his 2002 goal.

"Just playing in the Champions League and representing Newcastle in Europe was special, but then to go to Barcelona and score was something else.

"Also, the goals against Sunderland were great moments - the 5-1 in particular.

"Working under Sir Bobby Robson was a highlight too. He was my mentor and brought me through into the first team.

"I've been lucky enough to work with a lot of top, top players, management and staff, who have taught me so much.

"Every year, good or bad, has been immense because I'm living every little boy's dream."

And when it comes to the start of July, and Ameobi isn't walking through the big glass doors of United's Benton-based Training Centre to kick-off another year of pre-season training, how will that feel?

"I can't tell you because I haven't done it yet but I'm sure it will be strange because it's something I've done my whole life. It's all I know," he said.

"I've invested a lot of time and emotion into this Club, and it is strange but it is also something I am very excited about.

"The constant support I've had from the fans over the last 14 years has been immense.

"Every home and away game they've been there - in good and in bad - giving us the support we've needed.

"Newcastle is a great city to play football in. The fans are football crazy and the city has a real buzz and vibe when the team are doing well.

"It's been a pleasure to be involved in that for the majority of my life and it is something that I will cherish.

"But a new challenge will be exciting and something that I am really looking forward to."