Shola Ameobi blown away by stunning Newcastle United development
Shola Amoebi’s backed the Newcastle United Foundation to transform even more lives – after a derilict site next to St James’s Park was transformed into its new home.
Ameobi today opened sports and education hub NUCASTLE, which was built on the site of Murray House close to St James’s Park and aims to welcome more than 100,000 visitors in its first 12 months.
The Foundation will deliver more than 30 programmes, including disabled, girls and walking football as well as employability sessions and wellbeing workshops, from the innovative building, which has a rooftop 4G pitch and was built at a cost of £8million.
Ameobi played football at Murray House, which was once a club for unemployed men, as a child after arriving in England from Nigeria with his family.
The former Newcastle United striker said: “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster to get to this point.
"I think, standing here now and seeing the end product, it goes beyond what I thought it would be with the backdrop of St James’s Park, the inspiration that I used to have living round here.
“I can’t really put it into words, it’s just a momentous occasion for the Foundation.”
The site has a special significance for Ameobi, who made more than 300 league appearances for United and is now the club’s loan coordinator.
“I think, for me, when I talk about Murray House, it was the inspiration I took every time I came in here to play football, it was like I was in the stadium, because it was so close,” said the 40-year-old.
"That’s hopefully what it’ll do for countless other kids. It’s not just about playing football, it about being the best you can be, regardless of what you do.
"The Foundation’s ethos is to make kids understand their worth – and what they can achieve.
"Having a space like this only helps us do that more. The Foundation staff, for the past 10 years, have done an unbelievable job for the limited space that they had at the stadium. This just allows us to do more.”
The opening of NUCASTLE was also attended by Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe and captain Jamaal Lacelles.