Would you believe it? The Fenham Eusebio could be off to Brazil

Posted by Marc Duffy

Mark Runnacles/Getty ImagesShola Ameobi is in the final year of his Newcastle contract.

Shola Ameobi's long Newcastle career will probably come to an end next June when his contract with the club expires and this might well coincide with the biggest event in his 14 years as a footballer -- an appearance at the World Cup in Brazil.

Born in Nigeria, Ameobi was raised in Newcastle. A product of the Walker Central Boys Club, he made his debut for his adopted home city against Chelsea way back on Sep. 9 2000, brought in to the side by the legendary Sir Bobby Robson.

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I remember his debut well: a tall, skinny kid picking a fight with Newcastle United arch-enemy Dennis Wise! He showed glimpses of some skills, too.

Although Ameobi has been at the club ever since (a brief loan spell at Stoke City aside), he has never really fulfilled the potential that he looked to have, though he has definitely left his mark on the club he loves.

His first ever Newcastle goal came in January 2001 against Coventry in his fourth Premier League start. That first season he started 14 games, appeared eight more times as a substitute but only managed to find the net twice.

In his second season his performances and injuries meant that he was a bit-part player -- something he has been for most of his career. He started only four Premier League games as he was unable to break through the formidable strike pairing of Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy.

At that point, Ameobi began to demonstrate a flair for European football, scoring three times in six Intertoto Cup games. He also received a call up to the England Under-21 team and featured for them at the Euro Championships in Switzerland. Many of you will remember Ameobi being interviewed on Sky Sports at that time:

Reporter: "Do you have a nickname?"
Ameobi: "No, not really."
Reporter: "So what does Bobby Robson call you?"
Ameobi: "Carl Cort!"

In the 2002-03 season Ameobi's flair for Europe continued -- he scored a Champions League goal against Barcelona in the Nou Camp and he netted twice away to Bayer Leverkusen, but more often than not his performances were still indifferent and frustrating.

He scored Newcastle's only goal in the 1-4 FA Cup semifinal defeat to Manchester United in 2004-05, but only managed two goals in 31 Premier League appearances (16 starts).

On the 23rd October 2005 he began to forge his reputation as 'The Mackem Slayer' with two goals in the 3-2 derby win over Sunderland at St James' Park.

Ameobi's first hat-trick for Newcastle came in their opening home game of the Championship season versus Reading. Although still plagued by persistent injuries, Ameobi looked to have found his level when he played that year and he scored 11 goals despite only starting 12 games (he appeared a further nine times as a sub). This was only the second time in his career he managed to hit double figures in goals (the other being 10 goals in 03-04)

He kept his 'Mackem Slaying' up with two goals in the 5-1 win on Halloween in 2010, one of the goals being a magnificent volley. He scored against them again with a late, late equaliser in 2012.

Ameobi's last league goal for Newcastle was back on 22nd December of last year versus QPR!

The frustrating thing about Ameobi's career is that there have always been signs that he has some real ability but those who watch him regularly will tell you that most of the time he just looks like he can't really be bothered! A goal away to Barca, a stunning volley for Nigeria against Italy, several vital derby goals, but the nickname of 'Stroller Ameobi'.

But he is Newcastle's second highest European appearance maker and goal scorer!

For some, Ameobi's achievements make him a cult hero -- 'The Fenham Eusaebio'. Twitter is littered with pictures of Ameobi in various heroic states. I assume these are tongue-in-cheek.....

I remember being at Anfield a few years ago and the Liverpool fans cheering, jeering and laughing when the tannoy announcer indicated that he was coming on as a sub!

Still, love him or loathe him, I really do wish him the best and hope that he gets some playing time over in Brazil!

Shola Ameobi Newcastle stats:
Year Games Goals
00-01 14 (8) 2
01-02 12 (13) 5
02-03 12 (27) 8
03-04 27 (14) 10
04-05 27 (18) 7
05-06 28 (6) 9
06-07 11 (5) 5
07-08 4 (4) 0
08-09 14 (8) 4
09-10 12 (9) 11
10-11 23 (7) 9
11-12 9 (21) 2
12-13 11 (24) 4
13-14 5 (2) 1 (and counting)
TOTAL 209 (166) 77

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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