Is it time? Shola Ameobi doesn’t know – yet.
Eighteen summers ago, Ameobi was on the cusp of something, a career he could only dream of at the time as a teenager.
Now, the former Newcastle United striker coming towards the end of that playing career. However, Ameobi – who spent the past 18 months at Notts County – isn’t in a hurry to make a decision.
“I think, for me this summer, I made a decision to have an extended time just to be with family and the kids and not rush into a decision,” said Ameobi, now 36. “I’m getting to that age where I have to start thinking about everything now, not just myself, but I’ve got family and the kids to think about.
“I made a decision not to make a decision right away and enjoy the World Cup.”
Ameobi left St James’s Park four years ago, though, in truth, he never really left at all. He coached at the Academy and is also a patron of the Newcastle United Foundation, which last week held the annual Foundation 1892 Cup.
Appreciative of what the club did for him, he’s involved in the Foundation’s plans to build a state-of-the-art sports hub at Murray House.
The schoolchildren at the tournament weren’t old enough to remember his last goals for United. And they weren’t born when he scored the last of his seven goals against Sunderland.
Yet there’s an excitable queue of them patiently waiting for autographs and photographs in the shade as the last games are played out on a bright Tyneside afternoon at the Academy. Ameobi has time for every one of them.
“The Foundation is doing a great job,” said Ameobi, who made 379 appearances and scored 79 goals for United.
I think, for me this summer, I made a decision to have an extended time just to be with family and the kids and not rush into a decision.Shola Ameobi
“(It’s great) to have days like this, have the kids in and show them the facilities and make them feel really special.
“It’s the third year they’ve done this, and it was the best one yet with the weather. Obviously, the Foundation does so much, but it’s football that attracts the kids. It takes me back to when I was a kid and being around footballers and the football club inspired me.”
Ameobi was still going strong last season at League Two County, managed by his ex-United team-mate Kevin Nolan.
“We had a great season, and I had a great time down there, but the icing on the cake would have been promotion,” said Ameobi.
“I feel like we had the team to do that, and we just fell a little bit short. It’s a superb club. It was treated so well by the fans, staff and everyone there.”
Back to Murray House. Newcastle City Council last week approved the Foundation’s plans for a state-of-the-art sports hub just a free-kick away from St James’s Park.
“The pitchside, the whole thing we’re trying to do there, is inspiring,” said Ameobi.
“It’s all for these kids. When I come down to these events, this is what I picture - Murray House.
“It’s exciting. It’s still a long way to go, and we’ll have to keep on pushing, but it’s something that I’m definitely want to be involved in and see happen.
“This is just inspiration for me to keep working hard and make it happen.”