Brothers to play for LFC academy
ENGLISH soccer giants Liverpool Football Club have signed brothers Gabriano and El Niño Shelton to play for their academies – and there is an East London connection involved.
The boys, aged 10 and 7 respectively, ar
e the sons of former Selborne College pupil, Enrico, and Shirese Shelton, who are both from East London. Gabriano was signed to the academy side, while El Niño signed a pre-contract for the U9s that kicks off in May next year.
“It was the second week [November 27] of the six-week trial period for Gabriano when out of nowhere we received a phone call from Liverpool FC. It was the head of recruitment and he said they had had a meeting with all the coaches and had seen enough of Gabriano. “They wanted him to sign an academy contract the next evening,” Enrico said.
“They also want to offer El Niño a pre-contract agreement to sign him for the U9 team in May because that’s the legal age the club is allowed to sign players. He is the second youngest player in the squad. It was an immensely proud moment for us as a family,” said Enrico.
Enrico serves in the British Army and has been stationed in various countries. Gabriano, a box- -to-box midfielder come winger, was born in England and El Niño, a striker, was born in Germany, but both hold British citizenship.
“Gabriano started playing in November 2013 aged six and El Niño in 2014 aged four years both in Germany [while we lived there at the time]. Credit must go to the boys for dealing with all the changes from a close uncle passing away, their granny being diagnosed with cancer and playing in a warm climate in Cyprus to the freezing cold weather [of England and Germany],” he said.
Both boys played in Germany for SV Avenwedde and PRB Gütersloh, then for professional Cypriot European Champions League team Apoel FC. After moving to England in October they played for Allstars in Wigan.
Gabriano flew to England from Cyprus to attend All Stars trials in Birmingham and Manchester after finding out about UK Football Trials online.
All Stars said in a statement: “Despite playing with other players up to the age of 14, Gabriano was one of the standout players in his group and had his details taken by three clubs over the two days, two of whom are in the Premier League, the biggest football league in the world.
“On Friday 28 October, just two days after Burnley [FC] saw him in Manchester, Gabriano was training with their u10’s in the academy.”
Tom Reeves, Burnley head of academy recruitment, revealed what he liked about the midfielder and how he faired at the academy. “He came in and did well even though he was ill,” said Reeves, “At the trial he caught my eye with his technical ability and good decisions despite being the youngest in the group.”
He added: “Some of his skills were frightening for a boy his age. We are going to keep in touch with the family and it looks like he could be coming back to England in the New Year.”
It was Liverpool however, who beat Burnley and a host of clubs, including Premier League leaders, Manchester City, to signing the talented youngsters.
Over the years they have both won many individual awards and trophies in football, rugby and academics “too many to list” said the proud dad. They have been scouted by up to nine British professional teams with some offering contracts after two training sessions.
Enrico said: “Like any kid they hope to feature at international level one day and carve out a long career at Liverpool FC. They do realise that it is a long painful road but the important thing is to keep fighting to make your dream a reality. They are both doing very good academically and luckily you have the option here in England to further your studies through your club, so if you do not make the grade football wise then you still walk away with amazing memories and an education under your belt.”
“We are aware that this is only the initial stages of the journey and kids get released from clubs every season for various reasons. We are under no illusion that the harsh reality is that the statistics show fewer than 1% of kids make it to the [English] Premier league but for us it’s taking it one step at a time.
“We will continue to support the boys and motivate them to give their best without adding any unnecessary pressure because at the end of the day they are only kids who are playing a game that they love. When you meet [former England and Liverpool star] Steven Gerrard and other legends in the canteen then you realise what a big deal it is and why it is a massive achievement.”
“We thank God as a family for granting the boys this opportunity and trust Him completely for what the future holds. I hope this will encourage young and old that dreams can come true. Do not let your circumstances or what people say about you dictate what you become in Life. While you are still alive there is still a chance to dream big and make those dreams a reality,” said Enrico.