Midfielder reflects on his first year with U19s and Liverpool.
By Nicholas Veevers
It’s been an up and down first season at Liverpool for England young gun Jonjo Shelvey
, having juggled a big move away from home, captaining his country and trying to establish himself at a new club.
That’s no mean feat for someone who only just turned 19 earlier this year and it’s been a whirlwind 12 months for the Romford-born midfielder.
A regular for England at U16 and U17 level in previous years, Shelvey had the honour of captaining England’s U19s
in the first half of the season as he helped Noel Blake’s side through the First Qualifying Round
of the European Championship last October.
"It's always an joy to play for England and I've been fortunate enough to have done it since the U16s and it's something that I enjoy," he said.
"To captain them is something special and after playing for the U16s, U17s and U19s, the next step is the Under-21s so that's where I have to be aiming now."
Unfortunately, injury curtailed his international appearances in the second half of the campaign but his move to Anfield has been a different story and there are encouraging signs for his future.
After being a first team regular with Charlton Athletic since he was just 16, Shelvey’s performances at the Valley saw a whole host of clubs chasing his signature and when Liverpool won that race last summer, it was a big move north for the player but one that he has taken on and adapted to particularly well.
Shelvey believes the switch has certainly helped him improve as a footballer, having had to taylor his game a little more since joining the Merseyside giants.
"The defensive side of the game was very new to me when I first came here,” he admitted.
“The staff here organise you very well defensively, and it’s helped me as a person on and off the pitch.
"I'm not so attack-minded any more, I'm getting to know what my job is in the team.”
Shelvey has been rewarded for his development too, making 15 appearances for the Reds in a variety of competitions this season and he admits that it’s all been a bit of a dream for him in his maiden season.
“I enjoy it here and hopefully I can get more starts and be a Liverpool player for a long time," he added.
"The highlight is just coming into training every day. It's a pleasure to get up in the morning knowing you're coming into work at Liverpool Football Club. It's an honour.
"I speak to my brother and he hates getting up in the morning. He gets up at 7am to get a train up to London and he can't stand it. It's just an honour for me to get up and do what I love doing.
"I knew the club was a hard working and family orientated club as soon as I joined. Everyone loves coming to work here. I don't think you could find a better place to work. Everyone is friendly, everyone gets on with everyone."
As a central midfielder, Shelvey has no shortage of players to learn from in training either but there’s one man in particular that he looks up to and it’s no surprise to hear that it’s Liverpool skipper and England dynamo Steven Gerrard
"I think he's the benchmark for young midfielders - he is for me,” explained Shelvey, whose early performances for Liverpool have seen him compared to his idol in certain quarters.
“Everyone has someone they look up to but he's the one for me and hopefully I can achieve half of what he's achieved.
"It's not a burden for me, it's nice to be compared to people like that. If something's not going well, you can tell yourself, 'Come on, you're supposed to be the next whoever.' It's a bit of inspiration.
"It's nice to be labelled, but you can't rest on what you've done. You have to be your own player, train day in and day out and try to become the best player you can."