The Notts County striker on link­ing up with old team-mate Kevin Nolan

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Rich Dore

AT 35, Shola Ameobi has swapped the black and white stripes of New­cas­tle for those of Notts County – and found a new lease of life play­ing for his old mate Kevin Nolan.


Jon Stead and Alan Smith, an­other former New­cas­tle team-mate, are also at County and the ex-Premier League men formed a Dad’s Army that helped keep the club in the Foot­ball League last sea­son.

Ameobi joined County in Fe­bru­ary when they were 90th out of the EFL’s 92 clubs, a month af­ter Nolan was ap­pointed man­ager.

The ar­rival of the pair co­in­cided with a su­perb run of re­sults more akin to a pro­mo­tion-chas­ing club, and Ameobi ex­plained why he thinks Nolan is de­liv­er­ing suc­cess.

“We played for Eng­land U21s to­gether so I’ve ac­tu­ally known Kev for 13 years, so that re­la­tion­ship we’ve had a long time and it’s great play­ing un­der him now,” said Ameobi. “He’s not too dis­sim­i­lar to when he was a player, he has the same style and the same aura.

“He has the same at­ti­tude to­wards train­ing, to­wards the way things should be done and that’s cer­tainly some­thing that I re­ally re­spected when I used to play with him.

“When he asked me to come down I knew what I was go­ing to get, I think it’s the spirit of ex­cel­lence re­gard­less of what league you play in.

“He ex­pects you to be able to bring 100 per cent ev­ery day and when you do that as a team ul­ti­mately you will reap the re­wards.

“When as a team you all know what you’re meant to be do­ing that’s when you get suc­cess on the pitch.

“Kev ul­ti­mately breaks it all down so as a team we all un­der­stand what our jobs are and what he ex­pects of us, what we ex­pect of each other, and I think you’d be sur­prised how much that doesn’t hap­pen at all clubs.

“We want suc­cess in the right way and to do that you have to work re­ally hard off the pitch to be able to achieve it.

“That’s cer­tainly some­thing he’s done over the last four or five months while I’ve been here.”

Hav­ing been re­leased from a short contract by Fleet­wood Town in May 2016, Ameobi was with­out a club for eight months be­fore Nolan gave him the call.

The Nigerian scored four goals in 14 for the Mag­pies last term and won the club’s Goal of the Sea­son for a strike against Colch­ester, be­com­ing an in­stant cult hero amongst sup­port­ers.

New­cas­tle’s third high­est goalscorer has just signed a oneyear contract at County and is en­joy­ing life at the club fol­low­ing owner Alan Hardy’s ar­rival in Jan­uary.

“Go­ing into the sea­son there’s been a lot more pos­i­tiv­ity sur­round­ing the club,” he said. “We’ve seen new own­ers com­ing in and putting a bit of money in.

“At the end of last sea­son there were a lot more sup­port­ers that were com­ing to the games as op­posed to when I first came.

“There’s a lot of pos­i­tive en­ergy and thank­fully that mo­men­tum fol­lowed on into this pre-sea­son.

“I think, for me, it’s about feel­ing part of some­thing and cer­tainly with the squad Kevin’s as­sem­bled we’ve got a good ca­ma­raderie, great team to­geth­er­ness.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to hope­fully chal­leng­ing in the top half as op­posed to fight­ing in the bot­tom.

“The fans can see that things are go­ing in the right di­rec­tion and I think that’s re­ally im­por­tant for the club.

“When we’re do­ing well you see that rip­ple ef­fect in the city and that’s some­thing we saw at the end of last sea­son – we feed off that.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

OLD DAYS: Shola Ameobi and Kevin Nolan cel­e­brate at New­cas­tle and, inset, Ameobi in ac­tion for Notts

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