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Return to Euro stage was Toon's 'destiny' - Ameobi

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

THE 31-year-old striker forced his way into the senior squad at St James' Park as a teenager under 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 tonight's 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, 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 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 some evening for the Ameobi family, with manager Alan Pardew confirming that Shola's 20-year-old brother Sammy will be in his team, raising the possibility the pair could start together for the first time.

Shola Ameobi added: "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 start, as will Cheick Tiote as he prepares to serve a three-match domestic ban for his red card at Sunderland. Skipper Fabricio Coloccini will be rested.