I've not forgotten my roots - Ameobi
Shola Ameobi has made a bold declaration that he is excited to show he has never thought of turning his back on his country of origin despite spending 26 years of his life in England.
The Newcastle United forward is set to make his debut for Nigeria's Super Eagles in an international friendly against Venezuela in Miami, Florida in the USA on Thursday.
"I'm really excited. Nigeria is where I'm from, that's my heritage and I've never forgotten my roots. The majority of my family are from Nigeria and they're really excited about this. My parents are really, really happy but they would have supported me either way. It's a case of better late than never," Ameobi said in Tuesday's edition of the Daily Mail.
The 31-year-old striker said he wants to do his best in his first appearance for Nigeria.
He added that his decision to choose the Super Eagles is driven by the dream of wanting to be "an international one."
"I want to do the best that I can, I don't just want to be a local hero, I want to be an international one. That's what has driven the decision.
"This is the first opportunity that has arisen to do something that I've always felt passionately about and I've always wanted to do. It's a great honour and I don't take it lightly. It's something that I've wanted to do and I'm really, really happy that I've got the opportunity to do it now," he remarked.
Ameobi, who was the last Europe-based player to arrive the team's hotel lodgings at the Intercontinental At Doral in Miami, did not hide his excitement of running out for Nigeria.
"I'm really excited about it and hopefully I can go and meet up with the rest of the guys and see where we go from here. My focus right now is getting through this week and really looking forward to the game next weekend against Swansea.
"You'd be a fool if you didn't want to play at the very highest level and certainly I'm no fool. I want to play at the top as every other player does - that's what drives me and that's why I'm still here wanting to play in the Premier League," he said.
The Newcastle man also spoke about his club manager, Alan Pardew being "worried" that he is making a long trip for his age.
He continued that Pardew is also happy for him in spite of being worried.
Ameobi also noted that he will always hold Newcastle dear despite having fallen in the pecking order to Senegal striking duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse.
"I think with my age and the travelling, Alan Pardew has said he's worried. You don't get back until later, you don't get much time to recover but it's something that we will look at and make sure I'm not doing a disservice to the club.
?"Newcastle United will always be No 1 for me, that is the bread and butter so that is something we'll look at. But he's delighted for me, as you'd expect because he wants a squad full of internationals here. He's happy for me," said the Nigerian striker.
Ameobi was born in Nigeria but moved to Newcastle upon Tyne at the age of five.
Before switching international allegiance last year, Ameobi had appeared for the Three Lions at Under21 between 2000 and 2003.