The Sho must go on...and so must the great Ameobi debate
You haven't lived in Newcastle if you haven't been present or heard a debate about Shola Ameobi, well that debate will be going on until at least 2014.
They do occur randomly and are usually quite high up on the agenda of most Geordie fans and nothing quite splits supporters like a conversation about Shola.
The last one I encountered was in a taxi when the driver said: "What do people see in Shola man?"
Well, that's a big can of worms but since Ameobi made his debut for the first team 11 years ago, only Kevin Keegan took the plunge of trying to move the long-serving striker on.
Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Big Sam, Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew have all liked what Ameobi has to offer.
Alan Shearer didn't have enough time to make a decision on the player during his short stint in charge but having played alongside him - Shola set up his 201st record breaking goal - Big Al would know better than most what he brings to the table.
One thing that seems to be crystal clear and that is his attitude at the training ground is that of a model pro who loves the club.
Indeed, he's played through broken cheekbones, smashed teeth and a host of other injuries wearing gumshields and eye masks to boot - more than a host of overseas flops who simply only cared about the money.
There have been many talented players at Newcastle down the years but unless you can bring it all to the table on a daily basis at training, you may as well not turn up.
Managers enjoy working with Ameobi and feel he is a great leader.
My personal opinion is that Ameobi brings presence to the team in attack and can - on his day throw defenders around in the style of an Andy Carroll - but unfortunately that "day" does not come consistently enough in the eyes of his critics.
As sure as night follows day, an ordinary/poor performance will follow one of the players Super Shos!
Indeed when it comes to top notch performances, I think they only come once every four or five games.
At times he wastes the great opportunities and nets the difficult ones, but there have been plenty of players down the years capable of that.
Then there are the stats.
His 71 goals so far in black and white mean he could (arguably) at least achieve half of Shearer's record in the three years he has signed up for.
Ameobi is 26 behind Bryan Pop Robson in the all time scoring chart at NUFC and can go level in the top 10 in the latter years of his Toon career.
In the Premier League Ameobi is two shy of his 50th after 141 starts and 95 sub appearances.
Ameobi has three goals in nine starts in the FA Cup and three sub appearances.
He loves the League Cup with seven goals from eight starts and three sub appearances.
And in Europe he has 12 goals from 26 starts and 12 appearances.
They are just the straight stats and you can make your own mind up.
Yet there are those who genuinely do like Shola.
The Ameobi song will always be a big hit with fans and the fact that a local lad is playing for the team means a lot to many.
Sometimes Ameobi will pull off some raw skill and dance round defenders like Maradona but there are times when all that follows is a tame shot straight at the keeper.
But what you can't deny is, Ameobi has scored some BIG goals for Newcastle United.
Ask Sunderland for starters.
Ameobi has also bagged in the Champions League for the Toon and scored some great goals down the years for the Magpies.
So whatever you think, you can't say the Sunderland slayer has not provided you with some memories that will live forever.