Shelvey hails Benitez role in maturing – on and off the park

Jonjo Shelvey
Jonjo Shelvey
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Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey says he’s grown up as a footballer – thanks to Rafa Benitez.

Shelvey found himself on the bench late last season as the Magpies dropped out of the Premier League.

He lost weight in the summer and returned determined to belatedly make his mark on the pitch. He has gone on to start all but two of Newcastle’s 11 Championship games.

Asked what the difference has been for him this term, Shelvey said: “It’s been more physically.

“If you feel better physically fit, then you will be mentally better as well.

“I am not the same person as well, because I have grown so much more. I feel more confident and fearless than what I was. I have always been a confident person – you have to be when you have a bald head and have alopecia.”

Shelvey says he understands the need for rotation in a 46-game Championship season. “There will be times when I am not in the XI, but Rafa has helped me understand that and, in terms of that, he is a very good manager,” said the 24-year-old.

Shelvey, under Benitez’s guidance, believes he is maturing on and off the park. “I have probably always been a player who needs to feel loved, needs an arm round me,” he said.

“As I am getting older, I have felt that’s a bit childish. That’s not the way to be in life. You don’t need someone to say ‘well done’.

“You should know.”