how I started
"Everything I get I try to share with my family. I thank
God for the way he’s made it happen.
success is my family’s success. They help me every day. They
keep my feet on the ground."
are your earliest memories of football?
I wasn’t particularly interested when I was at primary school. I
liked music a lot – 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.
you weren’t ambitious to become a footballer, what made you get
with photos of youngsters he spotted as a scout.
was all down to Brian Clark. He was a scout with Newcastle – he
saw me play at school and took me along to Walker Central and also
to Newcastle. He’s been there all the time and he’s a big part of
my life still, I talk to him every week.
position did you play?
started as a centre forward but dropped back to the midfield, which
is where I played right through till when I joined the Newcastle
give the impression that football wasn’t the only thing in your
I love maths and science – I wanted to be a physiotherapist. My
parents weren’t too sure about all this football – they stopped
me from going to some sessions if they thought it was unfair on
me and too much. It was right what they did…I got 11 GCSEs and went
on to get a sports science degree when I was with the youth team.
I’d 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 I’d like to re-start.
wasn’t the only tough decision you were making by then, you were
also being chased by two international teams…
Yes, I had Howard Wilkinson calling me up, and Nigeria calling me
why did you decide to play for England? Partly the travelling
– it was well known the boss didn’t like players travelling for
overseas teams. But also the mentality of Nigerian football was
different, the English game suits me a lot better.
did you like working with Howard Wilkinson?
Howard had the faith to bring me in, he’s a great coach. And you
can have a laugh with him. I’ve great sympathy for him now, I’m
sure he’s the man who can do it with Sunderland, even if they have
to go down to come back up.
you been developing your skills?
I’ve worked really hard on my heading. That’s what I have to
work on. I love playing with the ball with my feet – I’ve always
loved playing, even it’s just tennis balls around the house.
was it like to score your first goal with the Newcastle United first
It was at home against Coventry… your first goal is amazing. So
many people, the team you’ve supported, you finally do it, it’s
a dream come true. My family were there, I wasn’t just proud for
me but for them as well. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard for
we first came to Newcastle, it wasn’t very multicultural. My dad
was studying and so we only had one income from my mum, who was
a nurse. We couldn’t afford football boots or shinpads. It was hard,
but it’s 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 he’s made it happen.
success is my family’s success. They help me every day. They keep
my feet on the ground. In this game there’s not many people you
can trust. I still live with my family, you can go home, it’s a
safe place, you’ve the comfort of knowing you’re in safe hands.
you’re not the only one in the family who plays…
My two brothers are playing with Walker Central now as well. My
youngest brother Sammy is 10, he’s a left winger with a great left
foot. And Tomi’s 14. They’re both very good.
how do you relax away from football?
I love snooker. And I’ve just discovered golf - I hated it and now
I’m hooked! I still love music, I like socialising with my friends.
I’m pretty relaxed, I like chilling with my friends.
what would you like for the future?
Every footballer wants to play at the highest level. I’d like to
play for the England team as soon as possible – first and foremost
I want to get into the squad. With Newcastle, Craig and Alan are
flying at the moment – but I’m a patient guy.
your favourite players?
Kluivert’s a fantastic player… Ronaldo… best of all now is Thierry
Henry. He’s the complete package, he’s got everything. He’s such
a clever player, when you watch he looks so elegant, it’s like poetry
did you meet Kluivert when you played in the European Championships
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.