Shola Ameobi hasn’t yet, officially, hung up his boots, but he’s already looking to the future.
Ameobi has been without a club since leaving Notts County in the summer.
And the 37-year-old – who scored 79 goals from 397 Newcastle United appearances – is enjoying being back on Tyneside.
“I’m absolutely content – it’s nice to be back home permanently,” said Ameobi.
“It was always hard for me being away from Newcastle, especially with my family and my children being here.
“I’ve done this for a long time – 18 years – and I just felt, moving forward, that anything I was going to do would have to come from being based in Newcastle.
“It limits the amount of clubs that you can commute to. I’m just biding my time, thinking about the different options that are out there. I’m taking my time and not making any quick decisions about my future. I’m just enjoying being back home.”
National League clubs Hartlepool United and Gateshead were interested in signing Ameobi.
“There have been teams out there who have come forward, but, like I said, it’s not something I want to jump into,” said Ameobi.
“I’ve been doing coaching at the Academy (at United) for a long time. I’m keen to continue that and help the next generation of kids coming through. I’m enjoying my time, not really knowing what the next step is yet. I’m doing what I can.”
Ameobi was given a rapturous reception at St James’s Park last week when he presented an award at the Newcastle United Foundation’s 10 Year Anniversary Dinner.
Asked about the welcome, Ameobi said: “Let’s break it right down – I’m a fan myself.
“I grew up 500 metres from the stadium. It’s in my blood. I think that’s the connection. I tried to do the best I could. It wasn’t always pretty, but they know I gave everything I had. I think that’s it.
“For me, it’s the love I have for the city and what the club has done for me personally and for my family. It’s great to come back full circle and help the next generation.”
The club – and the city – is in Ameobi’s blood.
“Over those years there were times I could have moved on, possibly,” said Ameobi. “Newcastle’s in my blood. It’s something that I never took for granted. It’s something I cherished every time I pulled on that shirt.
“I don’t feel sad coming back. It’s something I was very lucky to do for so many games. It’s great to be on the other side cheering the boys on.”
Ameobi is a patron of the Foundation, which uses the power of the football club to help almost 50,000 people in the North East every year.
“Every year you see the impact that the Foundation has, and it’s inspiring,” said Ameobi.
“You see the kids and how much impact it has on their lives. To have the city supporting it is what makes it work. To see it all come together is a beautiful thing.”