Received wisdom has Shola Ameobi down as a frustrating, inconsistent, injury‑prone bit-part player lacking Premier League quality.
This reputation is inaccurate, unfair, and, above all, out-dated.
Only Joey Barton possibly played better as, wearing a faceguard to protect a fractured cheekbone, Newcastle United's Nigerian‑born, Tyneside‑bred striker had Alan Pardew placing him in the same class as Carlos Tevez.
"Shola was magnificent," the Newcastle manager said. "He was brilliant in the air and he's got such fast feet. He's as good a striker as I've ever worked with and I've coached a few good ones, including Carlos Tevez, Teddy Sheringham and Bobby Zamora. There's no reason why Shola cannot have a fantastic end to his career."
For more than a decade the 29-year-old has divided opinion at St James' Park but Richard Stearman and Christophe Berra, the Wolves centre-halves terrorised by Ameobi, will doubtless be convinced that his skilful turns, clever distribution, fancy footwork and heading ability comprise a formidable armoury.
Having exacerbated Wolves relegation woes – not to mention moving his own side to within inches of safety – by flicking on a long ball for Kevin Nolan to shoot the opener, Ameobi connected with a Peter Lovenkrands cross to head the second. In between Nolan was booked for a cynical trip on Adam Hammill and left grateful that Danny Simpson was the red card preventing last man.
"You need to know you're appreciated and Alan Pardew has instilled a lot of confidence in me," said Ameobi who, with the exceptions of Glenn Roeder and Chris Hughton, was sometimes underminded by certain former Newcastle managers but is arguably more talented than Andy Carroll. "It's great and he's the same with all the players."
Barton included. The midfielder's cross precipitated Lovenkrands sidefooting Newcastle's third on a day when his imperious right-sided midfield presence represented a big reason why Matt Jarvis, Wolves' usually influential left winger, rarely secured possession.
Although a rare Jarvis cross prompted a consolation goal for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Jonás Gutiérrez's contributed a sublime stoppage‑time fourth for the home side a couple of minutes after Barton – stalling on signing a new Newcastle contract – departed to standing ovation. "Joey had a slight calf strain but a bit of me wanted the fans to show him their appreciation," Pardew said. "I think Joey's happy and I want him to stay but doing a deal with a player in the form he's in is not simple."
Newcastle can now negotiate from a virtually secure position. "We're still not quite safe but we're nearly there," Ameobi said. "Wolves was a big game and relegation was mentioned beforehand. When we went down two years ago we probably didn't take things as seriously. We thought we'd be fine but we don't kid ourselves now."
Victory made the pain inflicted by his mask worthwhile. "My face is really sore," Ameobi said. "It's hard plastic and smashes against my face every time I head the ball. It hurts."
Second bottom, Wolves are hurting too. "This was bad," said Michael Kightly, whose welcome introduction as a substitute marked his first appearance since serious injury struck in November 2009. "We've surprised ourselves at how poorly we've played. We have to do better."
Without Kevin Doyle, their injured attacking talisman, survival could prove beyond them but at least they do not have to face the Geordie Tevez every week.
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