Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has spoken out about his pride at becoming a part of the Nigeria squad and has revealed his ambition of becoming an “international hero” for the country of his birth.
The 31-year-old has been selected for Wednesday’s friendly against Venezuela in Miami, and Ameobi was keen to stress how much the country means to him and his family, having previously been called up in 2011, but withdrawing due to injury.
“I want to do the best that I can,” Ameobi told reporters. “I don't just want to be a local hero, I want to be an international one. That's what has driven the decision.
“I'm really excited. Nigeria is where I'm from, that's my heritage and I've never forgotten my roots. The majority of my family are from Nigeria and they're really excited about this. My parents are really, really happy but they would have supported me either way. It's a case of better late than never.
“This is the first opportunity that has arisen to do something that I've always felt passionately about and I've always wanted to do.
"It's a great honour and I don't take it lightly. It's something that I've wanted to do and I'm really, really happy that I've got the opportunity to do it now."
The striker revealed the concern expressed by his club manager, Alan Pardew, about his decision to undergo so much potential travelling, although Pardew’s prevailing message was one of congratulations.
“I think with my age and the travelling, Alan Pardew has said he's worried,” continued Ameobi. “You don't get back until later, you don't get much time to recover but it's something that we will look at and make sure I'm not doing a disservice to the club.
“But he's delighted for me, as you'd expect because he wants a squad full of internationals here.
"He's happy for me. Newcastle United will always be number one for me, that is the bread and butter so that is something we'll look at.”