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Shola Ameobi:
how I started

Shola in civvies!

"Everything I get I try to share with my family. I thank God for the way heís made it happen.

My success is my familyís success. They help me every day. They keep my feet on the ground."

What are your earliest memories of football?
I wasnít particularly interested when I was at primary school. I liked music a lot Ė hip hop, R & B. It was only when I was 11 that I began to play, my friends started playing with the school team at Heaton Manor in Newcastle so I went along.

If you werenít ambitious to become a footballer, what made you get more involved?

Brian Clarke
Brian with photos of youngsters he spotted as a scout.

It was all down to Brian Clark. He was a scout with Newcastle Ė he saw me play at school and took me along to Walker Central and also to Newcastle. Heís been there all the time and heís a big part of my life still, I talk to him every week.

What position did you play?
I started as a centre forward but dropped back to the midfield, which is where I played right through till when I joined the Newcastle first team.

Shola in action for the England Under 21s

You give the impression that football wasnít the only thing in your lifeÖ
I love maths and science Ė I wanted to be a physiotherapist. My parents werenít too sure about all this football Ė they stopped me from going to some sessions if they thought it was unfair on me and too much. It was right what they didÖI got 11 GCSEs and went on to get a sports science degree when I was with the youth team. Iíd started to do maths and biology at A level but with just being once a week it got too much, I had to put it on the head. But one day Iíd like to re-start.

That wasnít the only tough decision you were making by then, you were also being chased by two international teamsÖ
Yes, I had Howard Wilkinson calling me up, and Nigeria calling me upÖ

So why did you decide to play for England? Partly the travelling Ė it was well known the boss didnít like players travelling for overseas teams. But also the mentality of Nigerian football was different, the English game suits me a lot better.



How did you like working with Howard Wilkinson?
Howard had the faith to bring me in, heís a great coach. And you can have a laugh with him. Iíve great sympathy for him now, Iím sure heís the man who can do it with Sunderland, even if they have to go down to come back up.

How've you been developing your skills?
Iíve worked really hard on my heading. Thatís what I have to work on. I love playing with the ball with my feet Ė Iíve always loved playing, even itís just tennis balls around the house.

What was it like to score your first goal with the Newcastle United first team?
It was at home against CoventryÖ your first goal is amazing. So many people, the team youíve supported, you finally do it, itís a dream come true. My family were there, I wasnít just proud for me but for them as well. Iím not going to lie, itís been hard for us.

Shola in NUFC colours

"Alan's the king, but Shola's the prince"

Shearer scores... again!

Brian Clark, scout.
Read how he spotted Shola

When we first came to Newcastle, it wasnít very multicultural. My dad was studying and so we only had one income from my mum, who was a nurse. We couldnít afford football boots or shinpads. It was hard, but itís made me the person I am now. It makes it even sweeter. Everything I get I try to share with my family. I thank God for the way heís made it happen.

My success is my familyís success. They help me every day. They keep my feet on the ground. In this game thereís not many people you can trust. I still live with my family, you can go home, itís a safe place, youíve the comfort of knowing youíre in safe hands.

And youíre not the only one in the family who playsÖ
My two brothers are playing with Walker Central now as well. My youngest brother Sammy is 10, heís a left winger with a great left foot. And Tomiís 14. Theyíre both very good.

So how do you relax away from football?
I love snooker. And Iíve just discovered golf - I hated it and now Iím hooked! I still love music, I like socialising with my friends. Iím pretty relaxed, I like chilling with my friends.

And what would you like for the future?
Every footballer wants to play at the highest level. Iíd like to play for the England team as soon as possible Ė first and foremost I want to get into the squad. With Newcastle, Craig and Alan are flying at the moment Ė but Iím a patient guy.

Whoíre your favourite players?
Kluivertís a fantastic playerÖ RonaldoÖ best of all now is Thierry Henry. Heís the complete package, heís got everything. Heís such a clever player, when you watch he looks so elegant, itís like poetry sometimes.

And did you meet Kluivert when you played in the European Championships against Barcelona?
Yes I did. And that goal was probably the proudest moment of my life. It was the Nou Camp, it was the Champions League, it was top class players, I was in a Newcastle United shirt.



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