Monday, April 26, 2010

Newcastle forever I'll cherish - Ameobi

Shola Ameobi says Premier League-bound Newcastle United will not lose sight of the work ethic and togetherness that helped them defy their doubters to win the Championship.

The striker, a Newcastle supporter since childhood, spoke of feeling "privileged" at being part of the memorable title celebrations at Home Park - an evening Ameobi says will live with him forever.

The team toasted their superb achievement long into Monday night before taking to the team bus for an eight- hour drive back to the North East.

They had a midweek off-day but returned to training with a view to ticking two more goals off - topping 100 points and finishing the season unbeaten at home. From the way the players reacted on Monday night it is clear that this is a closely-knit group that has bonded over the course of a gruelling campaign. With a strong core of senior players, no one has been allowed to slack off and all have made a contribution to helping confound the critics - who predicted Newcastle would follow Leeds United into free-fall.

That work ethic was not always the case in the Premier League relegation season - turmoil at the top led to frictions in the dressing room.

Ameobi feels that having worked hard to create unity, it must not be allowed to happen again. He said: "It's great to get promotion but to win the Championship with two games to spare, the whole of the club, the fans, everyone can be proud.

"For me it's very emotional in terms of last season's disappointments. To get back up first time is something I will cherish for the rest of my career and for the rest of my life.

"As a Newcastle fan, I have been part of this as a player, and I feel it is a real honour just to be part of that. After the partying we are under no illusions, we know that it will be difficult. We came down last year and will have to strengthen. I am not the manager, I don't want to delve into his business, that's his job.

"But I know there's a core of players right now and we will give everything we have got. We didn't have a God-given right to win this league, we have had to give every ounce of effort to win it and that's what we will be trying to replicate in the Premier League." As for securing an immediate return to the top flight, Ameobi added: "I don't think as players we doubted it.

"We knew we had the quality and if we applied ourselves we knew we could come back up.

"There were eyebrows raised and people talked about us doing a Leeds, dropping down the divisions.

"But the belief in the dressing room has always been the same. We knew we had the quality to win the league."

"We knew it would be tough with the likes of West Brom, Middlesbrough and obviously Forest coming through.

"But we have shown the real steel and the endurance, which has been lacking in recent seasons. That will hold us in good stead next year."

Next up for Ameobi and Newcastle is their coronation as champions at St James' Park on Saturday against Ipswich - a game which already has the striker licking his lips.

"We knew if we won the last three games we would be champions and we wanted to have that trophy handed to us at St James' Park in front of our fans," he said.

"It will mean a lot to have them all there. That's what carried us through.

"We wanted to show the fans that trophy and it will be a great day for us.

"What we have done is won a trophy for this club and that's not happened for a while.

"It's only the Championship trophy, but as players and as fans - you can see how much it made everyone happy."

Daily Champion

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