Who is Shola Ameobi?
Foluwashola Ameobi, better known as Shola Ameobi, is a Nigerian professional football player who plays as a striker. He was noticed by the scouts of ‘Newcastle United’ at the age of 13, at a time when he played for the ‘Walker Central Boys Club.’ This led him to join the youth system of ‘Newcastle,’ where he spent 5 years before starting his senior career with the English professional football club. He made 397 official appearances and netted 79 goals during his association with the club. He made the second-most number of appearances as a substitute in the ‘Premier League’ and earned the winner’s medal while the club emerged as the winner of the ‘EFL’ championship in 2010. Following his tenure with ‘Newcastle,’ the striker played for ‘Gaziantep BB,’ ‘Crystal Palace,’ the ‘Bolton Wanderers,’ ‘Fleetwood Town,’ and ‘Notts County,’ before returning to ‘Newcastle’ as the first loan manager of the club. Ameobi’s international career saw him playing for the England under-21 team for a while and later becoming part of the Nigerian national football team. He remained part of the latter during the 2014 ‘FIFA World Cup.’
Childhood & Early Life
Foluwashola Ameobi was born on October 12, 1981, in Zaria, Nigeria, into a family hailing from the Ijumu Local Government Area in present-day Kogi State. He is the son of Dr. John Ameobi.
Ameobi relocated with his family to Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, at 5 years of age. There, his father served as a pastor in the ‘Newcastle Apostolic Church,’ a Pentecostal church. Ameobi and his brothers, Tomi and Sammy, who also became footballers later, were raised in the church.
He is part of the board of reference for ‘CSW.’ The organization is known for working on religious freedom via advocacy and human rights. His skills were first noticed while he was part of the ‘Walker Central Boys Club.’ This led him to earn an invitation to attend the ‘Newcastle United Academy.’
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On July 1, 1997, Ameobi signed a pre-contract with ‘Newcastle’ and then made his debut in the reserves on October 11 the following year. His first team debut happened on September 9, 2000, against ‘Chelsea.’
He put up a good show during the 2002–2003 ‘Champions League.’ He appeared as a substitute in many of his games. However, during the later stages of the 2005–2006 season, injuries led him to earn the starting place on a regular basis. This saw him netting 6 goals during the club’s last 12 ‘Premier League’ games.
Ameobi went through a hip surgery in the US during the 2006–2007 season. Although he came back to action later in the season, unable to impress ‘Newcastle’ manager Sam Allardyce or Kevin Keegan, he had to agree to a loan deal with ‘Stoke City’ on March 27, 2008. He debuted for ‘Stoke’ on March 29 that year and appeared in 6 matches for the club. He scored in none and then returned to ‘Newcastle.’ On August 17 the same year, he failed a medical test to finalize a deal with ‘Ipswich Town Football Club.’ ‘Ipswich Town’ were keen to get a deal finalized with Shola, but that never materialized.
He continued with ‘Newcastle,’ and in January 2009, he signed a new deal with the club to play till 2012. On February 1 that year, he scored his 50th goal for the club through a penalty against ‘Sunderland’ in a match that ended with a score of 1–1. On August 15 the same year, he garnered his first career hat-trick during the first home match of the club in the 2009–2010 ‘Football League Championship.’ He became the championship’s player of the month for August. On August 10, 2011, his contract was extended till the end of the 2013–2014 season.
His goal-scoring form against local rivals ‘Sunderland’ led many ‘Newcastle’ supporters to call him "The Mackem Slayer.” He netted three goals during the 2012–2013 ‘UEFA Europa League’ campaign of ‘Newcastle.’ The final day of the season also marked the last appearance of the striker for the club with ‘Newcastle.’ The club confirmed on May 23, 2014, that their association with Ameobi would end after 14 long years.
He signed a year’s contract with the Turkish club ‘Gaziantep Büyükşehir Belediyespor’ on August 11, 2014, and made his debut for the club on September 13 that year, against ‘Kayserispor.’ He played a total of 11 games for the club, scoring 4 goals before leaving it, citing family reasons, on December 29, 2014. He later signed with ‘Crystal Palace’ and remained with them till the end of the season. He made his comeback to the ‘Premier League’ on January 29, 2015. He appeared in 4 matches for the club. However, he scored in none and was released upon the expiry of his contract in June 2015.
He then had stints with the ‘Bolton Wanderers’ (2015–2016) and ‘Fleetwood Town’ (2016–2017), before signing a contract with ‘Notts County’ on February 3, 2017. He appeared in 51 matches for the club and scored 10 goals before he was released at the end of the 2017–2018 season.
On June 22, 2019, he became the first loan manager of ‘Newcastle United.’
Ameobi, a Nigerian by birth, started his international career with England's national under-21 football team in 2000. He had a 3-year spell with the team till 2003 and scored 7 goals in 20 appearances, becoming the joint eighth-highest goal scorer of the England under-21 team.
He expressed his interest to play for his home country in late 2009. His name was featured on the Nigerian national squad for the first time on January 14, 2011, for a friendly match. He made his debut with the national team on November 14, 2012, against Venezuela. He scored his first goal for Nigeria, in Kaduna, Nigeria, as part of a friendly match against ‘Burkina Faso’ on September 10, 2013. His second international goal for Nigeria came in a friendly match against Italy in November 2013.
He was part of the 30-man provisional squad of Nigeria for the 2014 ‘FIFA World Cup’ on May 12, 2014. He later made it to the final Nigerian 23-man squad and made two appearances as a substitute during the tournament, scoring in none.