Shola Ameobi: Talentspotter

Newcastle United striking legend Shola Ameobi speaks to FourFourTwo in July 2001, when he was beginning to impress for England Under-21s...

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Date of birth

Place of birth
Zaria, Nigeria

People just call me Shola – I’m happy about that.

Club supported
Obviously Newcastle. I’ve also always supported Liverpool as well. Ever since I was young I’ve liked the way Liverpool have played.

Club(s) played for
Newcastle United. I first came here when I was 11 and left again after a couple of weeks because I didn’t think it was right at the time. Then they brought me back when I was 14 and ever since then I’ve come up through the ranks.

I haven’t always been a striker. I used to be a midfielder as well in the youth team. I was used as a midfielder in my first year and a striker in my second, so I like playing both positions. I played in midfield for my school as well. I don’t really prefer either one, just as long as I’m playing.

Firstly, none of this would have come about if it wasn’t for God, y’know? I’m a Christian. The other thing is hard work – I always try my best. My ball skills I think are my main strengths, and I’ve got quite a bit of pace.

My heading. I’m working on that a lot at the moment so hopefully that will improve.

Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Ian Rush, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley – a lot of Liverpool players. I’m not like any of them yet, but I’m still growing, so in a few years maybe.

Obviously it’s been a fantastic season for me: making my first appearance against Chelsea in September, scoring my first goal for Newcastle, against Coventry, my England Under-21 call-up – and I’ve played for them three times now.

I drive a BMW but I like walking. Not just to keep fit – I enjoy it.

R&B and hip-hop. Destiny’s Child. I like all the hip-hop bands, y’know, and rap stuff. R&B seems to be the in thing for footballers at the moment.

What the gaffer [Bobby Robson] says
He’s been saying that I’ve done ever so well and that I just need to keep it up, keep on improving all the time and most of all enjoy it; enjoy where I’m at at the moment.

Best advice
To do everything to the best of my ability.

In five years I’ll be...
Winning trophies, hopefully. I’m just taking it one step at a time, just taking it as it comes and hopefully everything will fall into place. I’d like to be a full international one day. I can’t see myself ever wanting to leave Newcastle. I’ve always loved Newcastle and always will.

Interview: Steve Bidmead. From the July 2001 issue of FourFourTwo.