Ameobi laughs off Pardew praise
Shola Ameobi thought Newcastle boss Alan Pardew had gone mad after hearing he had described him as a "legend".
Pardew waxed lyrical about the 30-year-old striker after his injury-time goal had denied Sunderland a famous derby victory on Tyneside last weekend and taken his own tally in that particular fixture to seven. Only Jackie Milburn with 11 derby goals heads Ameobi in the all-time list, but the modest Nigeria-born Geordie was somewhat abashed by the compliment.
He said: "To be honest, the first thought that came to my mind when I heard that was, 'Are you mad?', but I guess that was his way of appreciating getting the goal against our rivals. For me, it's fantastic. To have that sort of praise from the head of the club means a lot, and hopefully I can carry on helping us win games."
He added: "I know he holds me in high regard in the dressing room and as a player, there's nothing better than your manager having that faith in you that you can pull through when he needs you."
Ameobi's latest derby heroics came after he was introduced as a late substitute having missed training through illness earlier in the week.
However, with big-money January signing Papiss Cisse having joined Demba Ba at St James' Park, the man who as a youngster learnt his trade in the shadows of the likes of Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy, Patrick Kluivert and later honed it alongside Michael Owen and Mark Viduka, is having to remain patient.
At times, his efforts on the pitch have not gone down well and he acknowledges that he has vociferous critics, but his growing reputation as a derby specialist means he has also tasted the kind of adulation Tyneside reserves for men who come up with the goods in the most important fixture of any season.
It is an incongruity with which Ameobi has had to deal throughout his career with his home-town club.
He said: "For me, it's certainly trying to keep that level head, that level state of mind. It's something I have always tried to do over the years, not get too low and not get too high.
"Yes, enjoy it when it's great, but don't beat yourself up about it when things aren't going so well. That's the way you have to be, certainly in a city and at a club that is so passionate about the game. It's certainly something I have had to master, and it's worked out for me thus far."