Newcastle hero Shola Ameobi 'could be prime minister' - Pardew

The long-serving Magpies forward is set to go to the World Cup with Nigeria next summer and his manager believes that his intelligence and experience are serving the club well
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has hailed the importance of Shola Ameobi – whom he says "could be prime minister" – to the Magpies' dressing-room.

The striker has impressed his boss in recent weeks and his form for Nigeria in World Cup qualifying has seen him set to travel to Brazil next summer.

Pardew told reporters of Ameobi: "Most times footballers are put into this category where they're not particularly bright, they've not really got a personality you would aspire to. Well, Shola is the complete opposite to that.

"You could put him in any environment, any school, any political field and he could hold his own.

6/1 Shola Ameobi is 6/1 with BetVictor to score the first goal in Newcastle v Norwich City
"It is that intelligence that he brings to the dressing room and the team. He also has an experience of this club that a lot of players here don't have.

"Shola has been fantastic for this club in more ways than one. I don't know about an ambassadorial role for him. He could be prime minister with his personality.

"Last year I had a lot of players in my first team who had only played a handful of games for the club and his experience, especially in games like [Saturday's] against Norwich, where the emphasis is really going to be on us to win, is a really important part of the group."

The ex-Southampton boss is thrilled to see Ameobi succeeding on the international stage and believes that Newcastle are reaping the benefits as well as the man himself.

"It really is an exciting time for Shola," Pardew enthused. "You can see that in him and his performances recently have reflected that. He's had a real boost to his career and we are getting the benefits of that and so are Nigeria.

"On his day, all Newcastle fans will tell you no-one can deal with him. What Shola needs to show is that consistency to do it every week in our shirt. He has the shirt at the moment and he has to keep it.

"He is a top player. He is in form and could be a surprise package in the World Cup who will do well on that stage."