SHOLA Ameobi has told younger brother Sammy that he has the potential to outshine his career and reach the “very top”, as the pair prepare to make history for Newcastle United.
Ameobi junior is a confirmed starter in a youthful but strong Magpies team to face Club Brugge that will also feature Cheick Tioté and Shane Ferguson.
With Fabricio Coloccini rested to prevent injury, it looks like Steven Taylor will start tonight along with Tim Krul and Papiss Cissé as Newcastle look for the result which would take them to the verge of the knockout stages.
But it is the prospect of the Ameobi brothers becoming only the third siblings in Newcastle’s history to start the same game which is of particular interest.
They would follow Matty and Ricky Appleby and George and Ted Robledo into the history books – but 31-year-old Shola insists Sammy’s elevation is about more than just curiosity value.
“My parents have mentioned it in the past, and I’m sure seeing both of us on the pitch at the same time will bring them tremendous pleasure. It’s no different for me,” he said.
“We’re much closer now than we used to be with being in and around the first-team together. There’s nearly 11 years between us; when we were growing up, I think he was maybe a little bit intimidated by me, which is normal. He’s trying to go through what I’ve been through.
“But we’ve got a great relationship now. I feel that as a big brother, I have to make sure he’s on the right track all the time. I know my parents expect that of me, and it’s something I’m conscious about
doing. I’m sure he’s well aware of how hard it’s going to be, and what he has to put in to make it to the very top.
“But I want to see him surpass anything I’ve ever done in this game and I know he has the ability to do that. He can do that, without a shadow of a doubt.”
The older Ameobi brother has urged Sammy (pictured above) to maintain his focus in order to make the most of his much-vaunted potential.
He said: “The perfect scenario for me is scoring goals. Sammy is coming through, and I’ve been through what he’s going through now, breaking into the team as a young player and also playing in Europe.
“I was fortunate enough to do that when I broke into the team, he’s finding his feet in the same way. He has tremendous ability, as we all know, but it’s about getting your head right as well.
“He has a good head on his shoulders, so it’s about making sure he works as hard as he can to get in that team.”
Pardew – who says Brugge must be given respect after topping the Belgian Jupiler League – has pin-pointed Ferguson and Ameobi as two young players who can break into his first XI this season.
“They are two players, I think, who can take us forward as a club,” he said. “It is a big game for them and they are training very, very well. We hope to see some fine performances from those two in particular.”
Meanwhile, Pardew has spoken of his delight at Xisco’s return to goal-scoring form – even though it will not be enough to book him a place in the squad for tonight’s game.
The £5.7m Spaniard notched a hat-trick in Newcastle’s under-21 game in the week and Pardew is delighted to see “signs of life” in a player who has barely figured since his controversial move in 2008.
“We are pleased with him but he won’t feature,” he said. “For the first time since I have been here he has shown signs of life. With the way our other strikers have come to the form, the pressure is not on him.
“He is sensing his confidence is coming back. All players have difficult times in their careers. I am pleased he got the hat-trick I hope he can build on that, but not in the Brugge game.”