Newcastle Utd’s Shola Ameobi taking a step into the onknown

Newcastle's Shola Ameobi
Newcastle's Shola Ameobi

SHOLA Ameobi is preparing to take a step into the unknown.

And he is excited. After all, he could well be heading to the summer’s World Cup finals with Nigeria.

Beyond that, Ameobi, out of contract at Newcastle United at the end of June, doesn’t know where he will be kicking a ball.

“I’m excited about what’s happening,” Ameobi said

“Newcastle is what I’ve known all my life. It’s a club that I’ve loved playing for, but I’m a realistic guy, and I know at times people have to move on.

“Who’s to say I won’t be here next year? I don’t know what will happen between now and the start of next season.”

Ameobi, however, has a few more strides to make at Newcastle before he can think of stepping out in Brazil.

And if these are to best his last three games for the club, then Ameobi wants to leave nothing on the pitch.

It’s more than 13 years since Ameobi, then a gangly teenager, made an explosive debut against Chelsea.

Ameobi squared up to the diminutive Dennis Wise in a meeting between the two clubs in September 2000.

The 32-year-old – who has long polarised opinion on Tyneside – has been one of the few constants in a seemingly ever-changing landscape at United.

His long career at Newcastle, it seems, is finally winding to a close after 394 games and 78 goals.

But Ameobi, whose contract at St James’s Park runs out in the summer, feels there is life in his legs yet.

And he is just focused on the club’s remaining Premier League games, starting with tonight’s visit to the Emirates Stadium, where fourth-placed Arsenal await United, a team seemingly in freefall.

“Basically, I’m trying to focus on the present,” said Ameobi.

“A lot of it is hearsay. I could be anywhere.

“I can’t do anything about that, but what I can do is try to work hard and help us win a game before the end of the season.”

Ameobi ended a 16-month Premier League goal drought in Newcastle’s last game, the 2-1 home defeat to Swansea City.

He just hopes it won’t be his last goal in a black and white shirt.

“It had been a while since I’d scored in the Premier League,” said Ameobi, who has blamed the club’s plight on the “limited resources” available to manager Alan Pardew.

“It was huge pressure off my back. It was obviously starting to build up. I’m delighted just to be playing again.

“I had a couple of months where I didn’t start a game, and I’ve started two on the trot.

“Hopefully, I can show the manager that I’m worthy of a place between now and the end of the season. That’s my focus.

“Hopefully, I can get some form and help us win some games and score some goals.”

Few, however, expect anything other than a United defeat at the Emirates Stadium given the club’s abject form.

“This is the Premier League, and if you go out with a gameplan, and you work hard, you can win games,” said Ameobi, who Pardew feels has a future in coaching and management.

“I’m sure there’ll be a few shock results before the end of the season, and we have to make sure Monday night will be one of them.

“No one will be expecting any from us. We have to go there and win.

“For me, it’s about giving a performance that warrants getting that result.”