Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi celebrated by Toon boss Alan Pardew.
After nearly 400 games for Newcastle United Shola Ameobi is very much a favourite son of both the club and the city.
The Nigerian international has been at the club for eighteen years, been managed by Newcastle greats such as Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan, but it hasn't just been his footballing prowess that has impressed present boss Alan Pardew.
Ameobi's contract expires at the end of the season, and his manager was generous in his praise of the striker's character and intelligence both in and out of football.
“Most times footballers are put into this category where they’re not particularly bright,” Pardew told the Daily Telegraph. “They’ve not really got a personality you would aspire too, well Shola is the complete opposite.
"You could put him in any environment, any school, any political field and he could hold his own. It is that intelligence that he brings to the dressing room."
For much of his career the striker has been in an out of the first eleven for Newcastle, and that is reflected in his relatively modest goal return of 78 goals for his entire career. His record against rivals Sunderland is something to be proud of though, with 7 goals in 12 games only being bettered Jackie Milburn.
Somewhat ironically, it was the recent defeat against Sunderland that gave Ameobi a prolonged return to the first team alongside Loic Remy, and this has coincided with a run of three impressive starts against top class opposition. The narrow defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup convinced Pardew to play Ameobi in the outstanding wins against Chelsea and Tottenham, and the big striker can now expect to play an important part in the rest of the season.
And it's a season that could be his last at the club unless a new contract appears on the horizon. If Ameobi does leave the black and white of Newcastle, Pardew fully expects him to be a success wherever and whatever he ends up doing.
“I don’t know what will happen with Shola in the future, he could become Prime Minister one day with his personality.”
image: © Brian Minkoff - London Pixels