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Nov 13, 2012

Proud Ameobi ready for Nigeria debut

Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi has described being selected to play for Nigeria as "a great honour".

Zaria-born Ameobi was included in the Super Eagles squad to face Venezuela in Miami by coach Stepehen Keshi - with the striker revealing his excitement at the prospect of representing the country of his birth.

"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," he told The Journal. "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."

"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)."

Holding 20 caps for England's Under-21s, a change in FIFA rules in 2009 allowed for Ameobi to switch his international allegiance - paving the way for his call up to the Super Eagles.

"The rules were changed a few years ago, and that's when I made the decision to commit to Nigeria," he said. "Unfortunately, with trying to get the authorisation from FIFA, it has taken a couple of years which has slowed the process down."

With the 31-year old holding cult status among Newcastle fans, he also spoke of his desire to be recognised both on a domestic and international level.

Despite this, manager Alan Pardew had voiced concerns at the extra travel required by his forward - with Ameobi explaining that Newcastle will always remain his top priority.

"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," he explained.

"I think with my age and the travelling, that's what he's [Pardew] worried about. You don't get back 'til 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 number one 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."

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