The Notts County striker on linking up with old team-mate Kevin Nolan
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.”
OLD DAYS: Shola Ameobi and Kevin Nolan celebrate at Newcastle and, inset, Ameobi in action for Notts