Sunday, 15 September 2013

Shelvey comes of age

Today's Sunday Times has a feature on Jonjo Shelvey ahead of tomorrow's clash at the Liberty Stadium between Swansea City and Liverpol. The only mention of Charlton is at the beginning of the article where it is noted that 'when Shelvey swapped the homely charms of Charlton Athletic for the fluorescent glare of Anfield, he was barely 18.' Charlton were known as a selling club when I first watched them in the 1950s and it has been thus most of the time. Our best talents develop their careers elsewhere. At least we have made some money out of Shelvey which was not the case for 'Judas' Defoe.

The article notes that Shelvey was stagnating as a squad player at Liverpool. 'When we won the League Cup in 2012 and I wasn't on the bench. it hurt,' he says. 'Some people might see [the move to Swansea] as a step back but I couldn't sit on the bench and take the money.' It is a dilemma that faces many talented young players in the Premier League.

When he met Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, 'He didn't sell me the club, it wasn't about the area, it was just about playing football' and it was music to the ears of the 21-year old. He admits that he loved playing for Liverpool and that he loved the city. Abertawe is a very different place from Liverpool. When I was last there, I was interested by how many people were speaking Welsh. Everyone has to study it at school and teenagers often use it at home so that their English-speaking parents can't understand what they are talking about.

I have two nephews for whom Welsh is their first language, but I know only a few words and it is, I believe, one of the most difficult languages to learn. (Mind you, I am struggling with Portuguese which is an increasing necessity given the size of our local Portuguese-speaking community). I was joking with my now thirty something nephew recently about when he came to stay with us when he was young and blurted something out in Welsh in fear and astonishment. It was 'doggie in the house!' He was used to sheepdogs living outside.

Anyway, the people of Swansea appear to have taken Shelvey to their heart: 'In Liverpool, it was Liverpool, Everton and to some extent Tranmere, but here it's just Swansea. Everyone's a fan and they're always wanting a photo, an autograph and to wish you all the best. [Just like going to Bluewater really]. I don't mind that at all: it's something that comes with the job and it's lovely to be recognised. I love it here.'

Shelvey does his talking with his football, so he probably can do without the Welsh lessons.

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