Jonjo Shelvey reflects on Championship title anniversary
Jonjo Shelvey has been reflecting on the "fantastic day" Newcastle United lifted the Sky Bet Championship title on the third anniversary of the dramatic afternoon of football which sealed top spot.
During a video call with nufc.co.uk, Shelvey took time to reflect on the current season so far and life in lockdown, as well reminiscing over that eventful 3-0 victory over Barnsley at St. James’ Park in May 2017.
While the Magpies had trailed Brighton by a single point at the top of the table before kick-off, goals from Ayoze Pérez, Chancel Mbemba and Dwight Gayle gave Rafa Benítez’s side a relatively comfortable afternoon on Tyneside.
But it was events at Villa Park which truly sparked celebrations in the North East as Aston Villa - then managed by Steve Bruce - scored a late equaliser against Chris Hughton’s side to snatch the trophy from the Seagulls’ grasp.
Shelvey said: "I remember coming off and we were winning, but so were Brighton at Villa and they were still ahead of us.
"I think Ciaran Clark was on the phone to someone at Villa’s ground and he got a message to say Jack Grealish had scored.
Shelvey and his teammates celebrate as news filters through from Villa Park
"We just went mental. We were jumping on the pitch and I’m not even sure our game was over.
"It was just a fantastic day. We had a massive party in the evening and it was just brilliant. Times like that make you realise why you’re in football.
"I know it was the Championship and not the Premier League, but it was a great feeling.
"My medal is still hung up. It was a great achievement.”
‘Most enjoyable season’
Shelvey was a key part of United’s Championship-winning side, making 42 league appearances and scoring five goals as the club bounced back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
And though he has enjoyed the current campaign - scoring five Premier League goals and agreeing a new contract - he cites the 2016/17 campaign as one of the best in his 13-year career.
"It was probably the most enjoyable season I’ve had in my career," he said.
Shelvey lifts the Championship trophy with captain Jamaal Lascelles
“Obviously, we won the Championship and got ourselves back to the Premier League, where the club should be.
“It was just a great season personally and we had a great spine in the team - a group of top lads.
“We’ve come up and we’ve made ourselves stable. I think you need to do that to progress.
"Once you’ve got that stability, you can kick on and try to achieve more.
"I’ve enjoyed this season as well. It’s just nice every other Saturday to play at St. James’ Park, having those fans screaming for you.
"Even the away games. You don’t realise how good it is when thousands are travelling all the way down the country.
Shelvey celebrates a dramatic VAR-awarded goal at Sheffield United in December 2019
"It just doesn’t happen at every club. It shows how good our club is and how good our supporters are.
"It’s been a shame for it to be interrupted when we were starting to pick up some results.
"If we go back, it’s about trying to achieve as much as possible and trying to finish as high as you can. We’ve got the squad and the manager to do so."
'Training three times a day'
In the meantime, Shelvey is continuing to put the hard yards in at home to ensure he and his teammates are prepared for all eventualities.
The 28-year-old has been training several times a day - and has even been waving at his teammates from afar.
"I’m probably even fitter now than when lockdown started,” he added. ‘I’ve been training three times a day.
Shelvey training during pre-season in China, July 2019
"We all get watches and it downloads automatically onto the club’s system and shows what you’ve been doing.
"As a footballer, you can’t get away with not putting the work in. If you’re overweight, you get fined.
"You also don’t want to be the one who falls behind in the running. It’s important you stay on top of that.
"I’ve seen a few of the lads out running but you have to keep a social distance so we just nod and wave at each other.
"Everyone’s doing ok but we’re looking forward to seeing everyone once it’s safe to do so."