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Features

Jalal held back tears after retiring

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Popular former Cherries goalkeeper Shwan Jalal revealed he had been “emotional and overwhelmed” by the response from well-wishers after hanging up his gloves.

Jalal, who spent six years with the club, recently announced his retirement from playing and has taken up a post as head of academy goalkeeping at League One Rochdale.

The 37-year-old, who started out in the professional ranks at Premier League Tottenham, made 478 appearances for 11 different clubs during a career spanning 20 years.

Jalal played 171 games in all competitions for the Cherries between August 2008 and June 2014, starring in the Greatest Escape of 2008/09 and promotion to League One the following season.

In an interview with afcb.co.uk, Jalal said: “We were on the coach to Walsall for the first youth team game of the season and someone said to me ‘I guess you’ve retired now?’

“I said ‘yes’ and thought I’d better put out an announcement. I put something on Twitter and suddenly started getting lots of messages.

“I had almost 200 replies, 1,000 likes and my WhatsApp was going mad. I was trying to hold back the tears as I read the messages. I was emotional and overwhelmed and would like to thank everybody for the response.”

Jalal joined the Cherries from Peterborough in August 2008 having won England C honours during a spell with Woking in the Football Conference.

Signed by Kevin Bond, Jalal initially worked under goalkeeping coach Vince Bartram before Neil Moss succeeded him in the role in June 2009.

Jalal said: “The club had just been relegated when I came here and Mossy had retired from playing as well.

“Andy Dibble, my goalkeeping coach at Peterborough, contacted me to say Kevin Bond wanted to have a look at me.

“My first game was a friendly against Portsmouth and they had just signed Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. We got away with a 3-0 defeat and I played quite well.

“From then on, it was just a case of how the deal was going to be done because the club had an embargo and had just been docked 17 points but eventually it was finalised.

“The early days were turbulent and, when you look back, it almost makes you cringe about how bad things were. But we had such a good group of lads and we all helped each other. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“It was an amazing time. There was the dark December day when lost 2-0 at home to Barnet and it was like ‘where do we go from here?’

“Little did we know what was around the corner and the adventure the club was going to go on.

“The Greatest Escape and then two promotions were amazing. There was also the play-off near miss when we were knocked out on penalties by Huddersfield. Being part of that group was definitely one of the highs.

“I was disappointed to leave. I didn’t play at all in my last season (2013/14) and part of me always felt I deserved a shot but I had to respect it.

“That’s football. The club was on a meteoric rise and was always looking for better players. It was just one of those things.

“In my last season, it was still great to be along for the ride. I was involved in every training session and was on the bench a few times. I don’t think the manager nailed down a firm number one until Lee Camp came in.

“The club certainly made and left an impression on me. I still follow what they do today and keep track of everything that’s going on. I was devastated to see them get relegated last season.”

Following brief stays with Bury and Northampton, a year at Wrexham was sandwiched between two spells at Macclesfield, the second of which saw the Silkmen win promotion to the Football League in 2018.

Jalal ended his career following two years with Chesterfield, his retirement announcement coming just days before former club Macclesfield was wound up in the High Court over debts totalling more than £500,000.

“I was devastated when I heard the news,” said Jalal. “When we won the National League two years ago, everyone thought the club was on the up.

“It is really sad for the fans and the staff who put everything into it. It is such a great family club.

“The only positive I can think of is, hopefully, somebody can get hold of it, start afresh and guide it back to where it needs to be. That’s the only solace I can take from it.”

While Jalal said the financial impact which the coronavirus pandemic has had on football had a bearing on his decision to retire, he also admitted he was looking forward to the future.

He added: “I always wanted to make the transition into coaching and this opportunity with Rochdale presented itself so, after speaking to my family and seeking advice from elsewhere, I decided to take the role.

“I have just finished my degree in sports journalism and broadcasting at Staffordshire University and plan to take my goalkeeping coach A licence.

“I learned a great deal from working with Vince Bartram and Mossy at Bournemouth. Although times were tough, I was fortunate because it was either myself and Dan Thomas or Ryan Pryce so we had a lot of individual coaching.

“A lot of my sessions now are based on the stuff Mossy brought in and I can’t speak highly enough of him.

“You only have to look at what him and Anthony White are producing at Bournemouth – Aaron Ramsdale, Mark Travers, Will Dennis and Cameron Plain. I study what they do and have plenty of experiences to take into the next stage of my career.

“People are quickly realising that goalkeeper is the only specialist position on the pitch so more resources need to be directed into it. How far goalkeeping coaching has come is no surprise to me.

“I’m lucky to live in the north west, which is a hotbed of football and there are so many clubs within driving distance.

“We have a fantastic academy at Rochdale and it produces a lot of homegrown players, although they haven’t yet produced a goalkeeper who has made a first-team appearance so that is part of my remit.”

Asked to sum up his playing career, Jalal said: “I know I was extremely fortunate to have had the playing career I did, even though I probably didn’t hit the heights I wanted to.

“But not every player can say they experienced two promotions. One of the things I’m grateful for is that I never experienced a relegation.

“Having a 20-year playing career and to be part of all those teams and to play almost 500 games is an achievement I am immensely proud of.”

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