Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Location: Atlanta, GA
|Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:34 am Post subject: Shelton says frustrated at Sheffield
|PAUL A REID, Observer Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti
When he moved to Sheffield United last season from Sweden's Helsingborg where he had a
successful stint, national player Luton Shelton was expecting to transfer his prodigious goal-scoring form
to his new team in the north of England.
However, despite a spectacular match against eventual English Premier League champions Manchester
United late last season where he used his blazing speed to keep the world-class defence on its heels,
Shelton is still to break into the Sheffield first team.
For a player who has always started for Harbour View in the National Premier League, Helsingborg
and the national teams, watching the game from the bench is not Shelton's idea of what life in the big
leagues is supposed to be.
In an interview with the Observer in Port-Au-Prince, Shelton tried his best to mask his disappointment,
but admitted he was frustrated at Sheffield. Things, he said, was not going "as I was hoping, it could be
better. I am not starting full-time and that was not what I was expecting, coming off the bench a lot,
which I don't like at all", he said.
"I am a bit frustrated," he confessed, "as I know I can do better and the team is not winning a lot of
games right now so... I want to prove myself." Sheffield are in 20th position of 24 teams in the
league after being demoted from the Premiership last season.
Shelton has made just four appearances for 'the Blades' in the Championship, all off the
bench, while starting once and coming on another time in the League Cup. In that one start, however,
he continued to stake his claim for a regular place with two goals in a 5-0 win. Contrast this with 14 goals
in 10 games in Sweden where he seemed poised to become one of the marquee players.
The soft-spoken Shelton said there were times when he wondered if he left Sweden too early.
"Sometimes I do have some regret leaving Sweden so early because if I had stayed a few more
months I might have gone to a better team because there were other big teams looking at me,"
he said while philosophically adding that "we have to be practical as Jamaicans when we
get chances we must take them".
Despite his agent Phil Graham and others, the 21-year-old said it was his decision to leave Sweden
for England. "I was working as hard as possible to leave by the same January when I left as that
was my aim and it did come by and I took it."
Talking about transferring is not really an option, he said, as he has signed a three-and-a-half-year
contract in January and he is ready to fight for his place.
Shelton said Sheffield manager and former England standout, Bryan Robson, heaped praises on
him when he came to England, saying he "was saying I was a good player with good attributes and
everything", but that he has some learning to do.
He insisted he could make him into a "big player" and the striker admitted as much. "I still have to
work hard and learn the (English) game more." Shelton, who turns 22 on November 11, said he
has fitted in well with the lifestyle and weather in England.
"I have fitted in quite well with every one, but right now it is just playing time in the first team.
I don't have any problems with the culture or weather, Sweden was a bit colder than England."
The biggest difference with the game in England and Sweden is the pace, "the game is a bit faster in
England. In Sweden the game is a bit slower, there were good players and good teams that play good
football, but not as fast," says Shelton, whose pace has left many a defenders gasping in his wake.
English football is also much better than Swedish he said. Shelton is confident his time will come
and when it does, he will grasp it with both hands, given his performances in the limited time he has
played in England. In addition to his eye-opening performance against Manchester United last
season, Shelton was named Man of the Match in two other games.
His priority, he says, "is to get into the team and start playing and starting consistently and starting
all the time, but it does not look like it is going to happen, so I really don't know what's going to happen".
Shelton, who is hardly seen without his laptop computer or teammate Adrian Reid while in Haiti, is
eyeing a place with one of the biggest clubs in Europe and "playing in the UEFA Champions League
day in, day out and eventually to make it to the World Cup one day".
Jamaica's loss to the Bahamas in their Caribbean Football Union's Group H second round game against
Haiti where he missed a handful of chances was still on his mind as he spoke to the Observer about
16 hours after the game.
"The game wasn't that hard, but I just don't understand what happened. We created so many chances
in the first half and played well. The team played well, but we did not score and these things
happen in football and we can't do anything about it."
Shelton says playing in the national colours was some thing he is always eager for. "I look forward
to every national team, I am more eager to play for national team that anything else," he said.