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FA Cup quarterfinal draw

FA Cup
By ESPN Staff

Martins emerging from Shearer shadow

Replacing legendary striker Alan Shearer was never going to be easy for Newcastle United, but in £10.1 million Nigerian international Obafemi Martins, the Magpies have a young striker keen to prove himself in the Premiership and take over his mantle.

Already the team's top scorer with seven goals this season, Martins has showcased his pace and power, as well as his acrobatic trademark goal celebration.

ESPNsoccernet Press Pass caught up with the flexible goalscorer in a Q&A session to find out how he's adjusting to life on Tyneside.

Q. How are you settling in at Newcastle?
A. I am getting used to it here and getting used to my team-mates and the football in England, so I am very happy here now.

Q. December was a good month for you, the goals have started coming. How important is it to keep scoring for the club?
A. As a striker you need to score goals, you really need your team-mates to help you out as well. You have to try your best in training and during the match, and if you can't get the goals you keep trying. So, I keep trying and I believe I will score many more goals for Newcastle in the future.

Q. What does it feel like when you score goals?
A. I feel great because as a striker you need to score and that is why I am doing everything possible just to get a goal.

That is why I am a little bit nervous during the game, but the manager told me to just take it easy and that the goals will come, that is what he always said.

Q. Are you aware of the history of goalscoring at Newcastle? The Alan Shearers, the Michael Owens?
A. I had heard of Alan Shearer wearing the number nine shirt and scoring a lot of goals, between 20 and 26 goals a season! So I am not really looking to score more than Alan Shearer, what I am looking forward to do is just to help the team to win and that is it.

Q. Why did you choose Newcastle and how hard was it to leave Inter Milan?
A. Newcastle wanted me, and that is why I am here. It was very hard because we had a lot of good players, good strikers, at Inter Milan. I really wanted to play regularly so that is why I decided to leave and come to Newcastle.

Q. Are the defenders harder to play against in the Premiership, what is different to Italy?
A. The Premiership is a little bit faster. I think it is faster than any other league. If the keeper has the ball you need to throw it to the striker or the midfielder so they can start attacking again, they did not do that in Italy.

In Italy it is a little bit slower, they pass the ball more in midfield and I believe it is good for a striker like me to play in England.

Q. The fans are famous here in Newcastle, how have you found them?
A. For me they are great, I believe they are the number one fans. They have not won anything for about 50 years, so it is really hard for them and they really need to win something soon.

We are trying our best to make them happy. Sometimes when we lose it is hard because 52,000 come to watch the game and we feel we have let them down.

Q. What were your first impressions? Were you surprised with the passion the fans have?
A. Yes, because everyone in the city, even the boss, is so passionate every time they pull on a Newcastle shirt. It is very strange because they really, really love football here.

Q. There are so many Nigerian strikers doing well across Europe, what are your thoughts?
A. It is very good for our country because now the Nigerian players play against each other a lot. It is like a competition, so when we get back to Nigeria it is like 'OK, I'm going to be the first person to score 20 goals.'

That is why I am working harder, to score more than Yakubu and Kanu. I believe in Nigeria it is a good thing for us to have this competition, it can only make us better.

Q. Are you surprised with what Kanu has done this season at Portsmouth?
A. I believe he is a good goalscorer. He did well at Arsenal, and he is now doing very well at Portsmouth. He knows how to pass the ball in the right way and I like playing with him for Nigeria, but it is up to the coach who starts.

Q. And finally, what are your thoughts on missing out on the World Cup?
A. I believe it is our fault. It is our fault because we did not take it that seriously in qualifying and then when we really tried to play, it was too late. I believe this time around we will work very hard to go to the next World Cup.

Catch Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder's thoughts on Obafemi Martins and the the whole interview with the Nigerian star on Friday's Press Pass.