While Demba Ba has notched up a scintilating 16 goals for the Toon this season in the league, Cisse has also impressed with 2 goals in 4 games since arriving from Freiburg.
However, it was a day in which the two men failed to make an impression on our bitter rivals, and Newcastle had to instead rely on a player whom perhaps doesn’t represent the deadly goal threat which has penetrated many of the league’s top defences this year; Shola Ameobi.
Ameobi, having represented the club over 250 times over a period of 12 years, has scored 50 goals to date. His goal against Sunderland yesterday was his seventh goal against the mackems; a tally only beaten by the late great, Jackie Milburn.
His stability as a Newcastle player has perhaps taken a turn for the worse this season however, with the emergence of the two aforementioned Senegalese strikers, as well as his younger brother Sammy, who has broken through into the first team this season. With only 1 goal this season, (equalizer against Tottenham) prior to yesterday, many footballing fans might suggest he’s a futile commodity; a player who isn’t worthy of wearing the Newcastle shirt.
However, I wholly disagree with this view. Shola is a perfect example of the mentality and ethos of Newcastle United Football Club. It is not a club which rejects players, even if they don’t always perform to the best of their ability; we don’t turn against our own players even if they are under performing; something which we see a lot nowadays from the fans of clubs, such as Chelsea and Arsenal.
In all honesty, Shola Ameobi has not always set St James’ Park alight in his 13 years at the club, but he has never refused to back down, and has proven himself a loyal servant to the Geordie club, time and again coming up with the goals when we least expect him to. His goal yesterday typifies his commitment to the club; a club which he has followed since moving to Newcastle, from Nigeria, when he was 5 years old. He has come to terms with his back-up role at the club admirably, and has never threatened to quit or demanded higher wages; a selfish trait which is seen so often in football nowadays.
Despite arriving in Newcastle not knowing a word of English, he quickly adapted to life in the city and has now, as shown from the several well-deserved ‘Man of the Match’ interviews, developed a thick Geordie accent. His initial promise was spotted whilst attending the Walker Central Boys Club, before he was invited to attend Newcastle United’s Academy.
After impressing in the reserves, he was called up to the first team, where he played 22 games in place of the injured Alan Shearer and Carl Cort. Goals against Barcelona and Bayern Leverkusen in the 2003 Champions League impressed the England management, and he went on to play 20 times for the England U21 side, scoring 7 goals (joint fourth top scorer for the U21’s).
Although he may never reach the goal-scoring ability of the likes of Alan Shearer, Jackie Milburn and Demba Ba (hopefully!), he is regarded a local hero in Newcastle for the pure commitment and loyalty he has shown during his long spell at the club. Although there will be fans who will disagree with the views I have expressed, I would like to think Shola will stay on at the club and continue to surprise the fans. His ability has often gone unrecognized and unappreciated but, in my opinion, he must be appreciated while he’s still here; he’s a testament to the definition of a true footballer.