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Debut Review: Shola Ameobi

Well this is going to be a lot less bleak than I thought it would be…

Ameobi while on international duty with Nigeria at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Ameobi while on international duty with Nigeria at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Julian Finney/Getty Images

I always knew that Shola Ameobi would turn out to be a great signing honest…

Ameobi of course came off the bench in the place of the concussed Gary Madine against Leeds United at the weekend scoring that goal which ended a 17 month goal scoring drought.

Did you know that Leeds have sacked five managers since Ameobi last scored a goal? No? That’s a surprise! I thought everyone knew that! Well it’s true and I’m not sure if that says more about Ameobi or Leeds…

Ameobi, whose full first name is Foluwashola which I think is amazing, spent 19 years at Newcastle United moving up through their youth system. During his time in the North East Ameobi won the Championship title and set the record for the most Premier League appearances as a substitute. Over that time he amassed 397 first team appearances scoring 79 times. This included 11 in 21 games during the 2009-2010 season which Newcastle of course spent walking to the Championship title.

A highlight while at Newcastle was an equaliser against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, Newcastle lost 3-1 but still. His goals in Europe leave him behind only Alan Shearer as Newcastle’s leading scorer in continental competitions.

Ameobi though then struggled through injury requiring hip surgery and later seeing a move to Ipswich Town full through after failing a medical. Before this he failed to impress a certain Sam Allardyce and had spent time on loan at Stoke City in 2008 when they won promotion to the Premier League.

He does though have a scoring record to make him a legend in any Geordies book, 7 goals in 12 games against Sunderland no doubt brings a smile to many a face in that part of the world. Especially now they seem to just lose to Sunderland the whole time…

After leaving Newcastle he spent a year at Turkish club Gaziantwep Buyukshir Belediyespor (I think that’s how it’s spelt at least…). He made 11 appearances scoring 4 times for the club before leaving due to family reasons. He then signed for Crystal Palace until the end of the season. He didn’t really do much for Alan Pardew’s men and was released at the end of the season.

At that point he was passed between various Championship clubs getting rejected, including by Bolton before he eventually signed for the club. It does not appear to be 100% clear why he disappeared and then turned up again. But I have seen a suggestion that he dropped his wage demands second time round which sounds like a likely reason to me.

Ameobi has also played international football both for the England Under-21s and for Nigeria at senior level. He is the England Under-21s joint 8th all-time goal scorer. I am not sure if this is impressive or simply a sign of the fact that he never graduated to senior level for the Three Lions so had lots of chances.

After this he played for Nigeria. There are competing stats for his time playing for the African nation. One says he scored 6 in 10 games which is good. While another says he scored only 2 which is not so good. But either way he played international football for a decent nation and that’s a fair achievement!

There is a fair worry in relation to injuries with Ameobi. His career seems to be littered with them. An example being the season Newcastle spent in the Championship where he was ruled out for two separate spells which is what restricted him to only 21 appearances that season. I believe he was also injured earlier this season while on trial north of the border with Celtic. Given the record of Bolton Wanderers players recently I do fear that Ameobi stinks of impending injury lay off. Let’s hope I am wrong about that one…

There is also the fact that Ameobi is no stranger to a goal drought. These often span months on end with his latest being a long as a winter in Westeros. This is a real worry here as I don’t think we can afford to have another player on our books allergic to scoring. It was great to see him get off the mark with a well taken debut goal. But now we have to hope he continues in a similar vein and does not just become the next Emile Ivanhoe Heskey or Johan Elmander.

Having said that he does also appear to go through veins of golden goal scoring form. So I am just going to assume that he is about to embark on one of those and not really think about the whole goal drought thing above!

As for his debut itself aside from the goal he has been credited with good areal ability and an eye for a pass being described as a menace as a result. He played a beautiful ball through for Liam Feeney who, if he wasn’t Liam Feeney, may have doubled Bolton’s lead. All in all it appears to have been a successful first run out, hopefully as he plays more competitive football he can become even more of an asset and prove the doubters, including me to an extent, wrong.

I thought I might just share my pick of fan comments apparently from The Bolton News site about Ameobi’s arrival at the end of this:

‘Pay as you play, while we PRAY as you play?’

‘Come to the macron, the soup kitchen for homeless footballers!’

Wonderful are they not? It’s fair to say that few where overjoyed by his arrival. But he has started in the best possible way and right now we have no choice but to hope that he can continue in a similar vein.