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Shelvey: "It Started Out as a Bit of Banter"

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With Jonjo Shelvey celebrating his 21st birthday, the player took the chance to look back at his start in football as well as discussing the meaning behind his goal celebration.

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Laurence Griffiths

It's probably fair to say it's been a bit of an uneven season for Jonjo Shelvey, with the midfielder's contributions swinging between promising and worthy of scapegoat status. Before dubbing him either Liverpool's next saviour or failure, though, it would be good to remember just how young Shelvey still is.

He's been hanging around the fringes of Liverpool's first team for two and a half seasons now, and with a promising loan spell at Blackpool last season where he scored six goals in ten appearances fuelling expectation, many have begun to feel it's well past time he should have begun to make similar contributions at Anfield.

Shelvey, though, was until today still only 20 years old. And today he's turned 21. Expecting a few rough edges and a few things left to learn—in short, expecting him to be something less than the final product—should be the default, even if it can be easy at times to allow expectation to outpace reality.

As for Shelvey himself, celebrating his 21st birthday meant a chance to look back at where he got started in football—between the sticks as he followed his older brother into the Harold Hill youth football club in East London.

"I played a couple of years above in my brother's age group," he said, engaging in something of a birthday interview with the club's official website. "It would've been goalkeeper and then I moved up to centre-forward. I just loved diving around and making saves."

Between mentions of Lucas' ability to put on a Scouse accent and his desire to one day play in the Camp Nou and Bernabeu, Shelvey also explained his goal celebration. He's talked about it before, but for some the way he makes circles with his fingers and places them in front of his eyes while charging the corner flag remains a puzzling sight.

"The glasses celebration has become known as my own now. Every member of my family wears glasses—I don't even wear contact lenses. It started out as a bit of banter for my brother but I've stuck by it and now it's become second nature to do it when I score a goal."

The celebration has, perhaps inevitably, led to the odd crack about how perhaps Shelvey really does need contacts when on occasion he misses a golden scoring chance, but on a day where it's impossible to not be reminded just how young he still is, perhaps it's only right to cut him a little slack. At least until next year when he turns 22.

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