Liam Kenny sat down with Pies’ frontman and Premier League legend Shola Ameobi on his 36th birthday to talk all things Notts.
Shola sits down and a caterpillar cake arrives to meet him as the press conference begins with the reporters and staff singing Happy Birthday to the ex-England and Nigeria international. He asks if the caterpillar is ‘a nod to how slow I run on the pitch’, but despite being 36 now, the striker is in the shape of his life and still believes he has plenty to offer at Meadow Lane.
Notts could probably do with a performance this weekend Shola, right?
SA: “Yeah I think to come from the run we’ve been on too a bit of a blip with the last two results but we have another chance to put it right this weekend and hopefully we can put our stamp on the game.”
It does show how far the team has come though, doesn’t it; everybody leaving bitterly disappointed after the home draw to Forest Green Rovers?
SA: “Yeah, it is. You can definitely see the culture change now. Even though we nicked a point against Forest Green, heads were still down, we were still disappointed.”
“The lads all wanna be together and work together on a day-to-day basis, which is great. That’s a big thing for me, at my age that keeps the fire burning”
What is the difference now compared to when you first joined the club?
SA: “It was tough when the manager took over, the club weren’t exactly doing well. The players weren’t confident. When you don’t win games on a regular basis it grinds on you, and I know this from experience. You could see that the confidence of players was drained, but since the managers been in, winning games, that ultimately brings confidence. I don’t care how you play on a Saturday, getting the three points is what will breed confidence and if you’re doing that on a regular basis, that is when players start to believe they can come back from 1-0, 2-0 down and rescue the point or go on and win.”
How are you fitness wise, Shola; as we saw you return in a cameo appearance against Mansfield, but are you 100% now?
SA: “I’m back now and obviously it’s frustrating to be out with a hamstring, especially when the team’s doing so well, you just want to be a part of it, I’m excited to see if the manager pulls my name out the hat then I’m ready to go. I don’t feel like I’ve been rushed back, I’ve had ten full sessions’ training now and I’m feeling good and ready to prove myself again.”
36 years old now, and you still look good, what keeps you going and how long do you perceive yourself still playing football for?
SA: “I take it year on year, for me physically I’m still able to do it. I keep myself relatively fit and physically fit as well, so it’s just a case of taking stock at the end of the season. At the moment I’m loving playing football, training and still love competing on a Saturday, it’s about coming into an atmosphere you enjoy, and the manager’s done that here by creating a great squad. The lads all wanna be together and work together on a day-to-day basis, which is great. That’s a big thing for me, at my age that keeps the fire burning. That’s what good teams do, be together and appreciate each other. That’s what we do here, we have a real good bunch of lads here.”
On the recent dip in results, Shola?
SA: “You’re never gonna win every game, especially when there’s forty-six of them, so it’s about just getting back, taking stock and looking forward to the next one.”
Featured image courtesy of Liam Kenny