Originally published in JesmondLocal – October 25, 2016
Former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi was in attendance for Jesmond Parish’s Sunday night service on October 23rd.
Ameobi was in attendance for the final part of Jesmond Parish Church’s One Life series of talks and events. The events have been running since October 8th, and included a curry night and sports quiz at St James’ Park, and focused on introducing Christianity to those who have either stopped attending church or who have never done so. Sunday’s ‘One Life: What’s it all about’ was the final talk to round up the series.
The ex-Magpie spoke to the congregation about his experiences at Newcastle United and about his faith and relationship with God.
Reverend Jonathan Redfearn began the service with some words and hymns, before introducing Ameobi through a compilation of some of his Newcastle goals, and then welcoming the man himself.
Ameobi began his talk answering questions about his time at Newcastle United, his title ‘Mackem Slayer’, and his favourite moments in a black and white shirt – including his goal against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the 2002/03 Champions League and his goals against arch-rivals Sunderland.
The main reason Ameobi was there, however, was to discuss his faith. He told the audience that he reconnected with his faith at 24 when his sister brought him along to a church convention. Ameobi was brought up a Christian due to his father’s role as a church elder but he told the congregation of the constant battle between Sunday league football and Sunday school.
He also described how God had helped him through his parents’ actions in driving him forward and told the attendees that “there is more to life than football”. He signed off by telling the congregation that “God loves us all”.
JesmondLocal caught up with Ameobi at the end of the service where he told us that his favourite part of living in Jesmond, having lived there until a few years ago, was the Dene.
He described himself as an “outdoorsy man” and said he had a “love for nature”. He also chatted about religion within the locker room and told of how it is opening up and becoming more accepted, compared to when he started at Newcastle United and would keep his faith more discreet.