Ex-Newcastle United & Nigeria’s Ameobi opens up on ‘murky’ Ashley years and future hope

Shola AmeobiGetty

Retired Nigerian striker Shola Ameobi has explained why it would have been frustrating for him to play for Newcastle United in the last few years.

The Premier League club underwent a change in ownership when Mike Ashley left and the club transitioned to Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, Jamie Reuben, and the Public Investment Fund having control of the club.

The Nigerian left the Magpies in 2014, having played for them for 14 years, seven of which were under Ashley's ownership.

"It was very murky," Ameobi said of the latter years under Ashley.

"[But now] to have owners who want to have a clear vision, doing the due diligence as we speak on where the club is, and who want to set a benchmark against other top Premier League clubs, that is where they want to be, where the fans want to be, and me, as a fan as well, it’s really exciting - I am hopeful for the future."

Currently, the 40-year-old is acting as the side’s loan manager and oversees those who leave the club temporarily and track their development.

The former Super Eagles star hopes to have a positive influence on the club in the capacity he is serving at.

"Regardless, if I worked for the club, I used to coach the academy in the evening, I always wanted to be involved - it’s my heart. This role didn’t exist when I stopped," continued Ameobi.

"It was quite a fluid thing that just happened, and it gives me an opportunity to work not only with the academy but with the first team players, recruitment, and all the different departments. Hopefully, I can be a positive influence on the club, helping out where I can.

"Newcastle’s in my blood. I always want to help the next generation. I always look back on the help that I got growing up, and I feel I have a sense of duty to do the same. Obviously, being in the role that I am, helping the next group of players hopefully transition into first-team football is key."

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Eddie Howe’s side now lies nine points off the drop zone, and Ameobi says hope is what brings a distinct difference between the past and now.

"There’s hope. That’s ultimately something I don’t think is talked about enough," he discussed.

"I know over the past few years there’s been a distinct lack of that in the club. There’s a chance now, with the new owners and what they want to do going forward, it just gives everyone a sense of 'we want to build something that is great'."