Ameobi enjoying European return

  • Last Updated: October 25 2012, 8:33 BST

Shola Ameobi never gave up hope of playing in Europe again, even in the depths of Newcastle's despair.

Ameobi: Knew big European nights could return

Shola Ameobi

Shola Ameobi

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The 31-year-old striker forced his way into the senior squad at St James' Park as a teenager under Sir Bobby Robson, and played both Champions League and UEFA Cup football during his formative years in the game.

However, Europe looked to be the last thing on Tyneside minds when the Magpies were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2008-09 season.

But a little more than three years on, Ameobi and his team-mates are preparing for their Europa League clash with Belgian outfit Club Brugge with the frontman insisting he always believed those big nights could return to Tyneside.

He said: "I am a big believer in destiny. When we went down, something in me wanted to believe that we would get there again.

"Even before we were relegated when things weren't going great, I always felt that the club, with the size of it and the fan-base we had, it was a club that needed to be in Europe on an annual basis. I know that's what the manager feels and the owner feels.

"I did believe it - whether it would happen, that was another question, so for me to be sitting here talking about a European game tomorrow night is fantastic.

"I came into a team playing in the Champions' League, and at the time, you take it for granted.

"We were in the Champions League for a couple of years and in the UEFA Cup for a couple as well. I have great memories, fond memories, of playing in Europe, and it's just great to be part of it all these years later."

It could be a landmark evening for the Ameobi family with manager Alan Pardew having already confirmed that Shola's 20-year-old brother Sammy will be in his team, raising the possibility that the pair could start together for the first time having so far appeared together only when one or the other has been introduced as a substitute.

Shola is hoping he can pass on some of his experience of growing up in football on Tyneside to Sammy, but he is confident his little brother has a big future ahead of him.

He said: "I've been through what he's going through now, breaking into the team as a young player and also playing in Europe.

"I was fortunate enough to do that when I broke into the team, and he's finding his feet in the same way.

"He's a player who has tremendous ability, as we all know, but it's about getting your head right as well.

"I know he has a good head on his shoulders, so it's about making sure he works as hard as he can to get in that team."

Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson will also start, as will midfielder Cheick Tiote as he prepares to serve a three-match domestic ban following his sending-off at Sunderland at the weekend, but skipper Fabricio Coloccini will be rested.