Shola Ameobi, lauded for his record against Sunderland, but maligned for mostly mediocrity, has voiced intentions to leave the club in the summer. Whether this is to play for another team, to retire or to take up a management career is unknown, though the latter seems unlikely unless suit tailors start adding matching hats to all of their ensembles.
Shola has been a loyal servant to our club, if only for the enduring inability to shift him. We tried offloading him on loan to Stoke back in 2008, but after a typical 6 games without a goal, they sent him back.
Still, for all his comical first touches and more than occasional offsides, there is an endearing quality about this lad – the soft souled Geordie accent that is not at all befitting of a six foot something black man and his collection of goals against the Mackems, are worthy characteristics of a unique cult following.
He made his debut under Bobby Robson back in 2000 and for a few games looked promising, but then I suppose many would, playing alongside Alan Shearer. A return of 2 goals form his first 22 appearances, however, gave us a small indication of what was to come.
Shola has never been prolific, or even good, but what he has been is hard working; and as evidenced by Danny Welbeck’s nomination for a PFA award this season, that’s sometimes all you need.
An unabashed and vocal love for the club has made bad performances forgivable and a rather laugh than cry attitude, has usually quashed any boos.
I’ll be sad to Shola go because save for Steve Harper, he’s the last survivor of the Robson generation and the screamer against Tottenham in 2011 was the best goal I’ve ever personally seen live.
Shola scored 76 goals in 368 appearances for Newcastle, a record most midfielders would be proud of. Messi scored 73 last season, but he unlike Shola, has never scored against Barcelona.
On some level, I think Shola has always been aware of his limited ability to contribute. That’s why he never looks that upset to be on the bench. But I’ve never doubted his commitment.
In his own unique way, his decision to leave a year early might actually help the club. He’s done the noble thing, leaned on his sword, and freed up some wages for new talent.
So, Shola, not just for that, the goals against Sunderland or your ridiculous fascination with hats, but for everything, thank you.