Shola Ameobi is enjoying an Indian summer at Newcastle United

Shola Ameobi has been a vital contributor to a team going for three wins in a row against Norwich City at St James’ Park

Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi
Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi

Shola Ameobi has scored three goals in the past two and a bit Premier League seasons.

A grand total that includes none, so far, in this campaign.

It was generally accepted that he would leave Newcastle United in the summer with a number of clubs, including Hull City, said to be interested.

Even Ameobi himself spoke openly about how he would need to move. Nobody, least of all Alan Pardew, thought to contradict him.

And yet here is Shola, in his umpteenth season as a Newcastle player, still getting a game and yet still not scoring anywhere close to regularly.

He is, however, having something of a renaissance.

Without being brilliant, the 32-year-old has played his part for the team in recent weeks. His mere presence has been a huge help to Loic Remy who prefers to play off a No 9, rather than occupy that role himself.

At the moment, he is keeping out Papiss Cisse and deservedly so as he’s been a vital contributor to a team that is going for three wins in a row this afternoon against Norwich City at St James’ Park.

Pardew joked about Ameobi becoming Prime Minister earlier in the week, but rather than it becoming a throwaway line, it reflected the player’s standing at the club.

Ameobi scored and made a goal for Nigeria against Italy on Monday night, just 48 hours after the Super Eagles – best nickname in sport, by the way – qualified for the World Cup.

There haven’t been many better weeks in the life of Foluwashola Ameobi.

Pardew said: “It really is an exciting time for him. You can see that in him and his performances recently have reflected that.

“He’s had a real boost to his career and we are getting the benefits of that and so are Nigeria. On his day, all Newcastle fans will tell you no one can deal with him.

“What Shola needs to show is that consistency to do it every week in our shirt. He has the shirt at the moment and he has to keep it.

“Most times footballers are put into this category where they’re not particularly bright, they’ve not really got a personality you would aspire to. Well, Shola is the complete opposite to that.

“You could put him in any environment, any school, any political field and he could hold his own. It is that intelligence that he brings to the dressing room and the team.

“He also has an experience of this club that a lot of players here don’t have. Last year I had a lot of players in my first team who had only played a handful of games for the club, his experience, especially in games likes this against Norwich where the emphasis is really going to be on us to win, he knows how to win them. His experience is a really important part of the group.”

In the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, who may come back today, Ameobi would have in normal circumstances taken the captain’s armband.

However, Cheick Tiote has led the team in recent weeks and led it quite brilliantly. Pardew was asked whether his midfield general could carry on playing as well, and he’s rarely done better during his time here, when the armband is taken off him.

The manager said: “That’s something I can’t answer, but the one thing I do know is that Cheick is a much improved player from the one we had last year. If you look at little segments of our team, he is replicating the year we finished fifth when he was a massive player for us. He is showing that sort of form and we need to keep him there. If Colo plays and it affects Cheick  I’ll put two armbands out there, but I think he will be fine. He’s a very motivated player.

“Some people grow with the armband and he was one of those. I’m just really pleased he is back to his best and looking really sharp.”

Pardew is feeling good about life right now. He has a full compliment of players, just about, which makes a pleasant change.

He said: “We’ve got everybody training, and again that’s more good news for this club.  The players are ready, they’re coming in to a really big, thick set of fixtures and part of the season.

“This time last year we were in a terrible position with injuries but this time it’s the complete opposite.”

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