Exclusive: South Shields’ audacious bid to sign ex-Newcastle star Shola Ameobi

Shola Ameobi
Shola Ameobi

South Shields have failed in an audacious bid to sign former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi.

The Northern League Division Two leaders had hoped to add Ameobi to a squad that already contains Sunderland legend Julio Arca, but were thwarted after the striker said he was considering other offers.

Ameobi played more than 300 times for Newcastle

Ameobi played more than 300 times for Newcastle

Shields boss Jon King spoke to Ameobi this week after the 34-year-old was left without a club following his spell at Bolton.

King said: “I got a number for Shola and spoke to him after I saw he was unattached and not playing.

“When things like this come up you don’t know what people are thinking – whether they’d rather play local, retire, go abroad...

“I asked the question and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

“Shola said he’s got a couple of offers at the minute and he’s hoping to stay as a pro.

“I thought it might be a good fit with Shola but it was the wrong time. Who knows, it might be a better time in the future.”

Ameobi was left without a club after his short-term deal with Championship side Bolton Wanderers came to an end when the cash-hit Trotters – some £175million in debt – revealed they couldn’t afford to pay him any longer.

Ameobi offered to play for free, but that was blocked by the FA leaving the Nigeria international – who had spells at Turkish side Gaziantep and Crystal Palace since ending his 14-year career at Newcastle – without a club.

King is keen to stress that the move for Ameobi was no publicity stunt, pointing to the impact ex-Sunderland and Middlesbrough star Arca has made at Mariners Park since joining in September.

Instead, it shows the ambition of the club as they look to progress through the divisions, with Conference football the ultimate aim for new chairman Geoff Thompson.

“We were serious about our offer,” King added. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have wasted his time.

“When you sign a player like Julio, it shows what the club is about.

“I told Shola about the club and about our ambition, and where we want to be.

“I’ve got the backing of the club. He might have been out of our range but you never know unless you ask the question.

“This isn’t a publicity stunt. It was the same with Julio and it took me a couple of weeks to get him.

“He helped put the club on the map when we came back to the town, with the bonus being that he’s a fantastic player.

“We will always be looking to sign the best players we can.”

Ameobi made more than 300 appearances for Newcastle and played in the 2014 World Cup for Nigeria.