Sport

Shelton rates instinctive free-kick his best

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior reporter walkerh@jamaicapobserver.com

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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Any behaviour is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience. Newly-hatched sea turtles on a beach will automatically move toward the ocean. A Joey, a young kangaroo, climbs into its mother's pouch on being born.

Likewise, honey bees communicate by dancing in the direction of a food source without formal instruction and a born goalscorer like Luton Shelton just kicks the ball into the net.

That's exactly what Shelton did against the American without any sense of thought as he scored the historic winning goal in Jamaica's 2-1 World Cup qualification win on Friday.

"To be honest, I have never felt anything like this before. The first free-kick I took for Jamaica is the only one I scored. I just had this feeling and I wanted to score," Shelton explained about his curled spot kick with the score locked a 1-1.

Earlier, his teammate Rodolph Austin, a regular free-kick taker for Jamaica, drilled a low shot past the bewildered Tim Howard in the American goal to cancel out Clint Dempsey's 36-second strike.

Despite being the country's all-time leading scorer with 35 goals from 69 matches, Shelton, 26, said he had never taken a free-kick at this level before. So what prompted the captain of the night to demand that kick?

"I asked nearly 20 times to get this free-kick from Austin and he gave it to me and I took it and did the job," he explained at the post-match press conference.

"Actually, it's a good feeling for me; it's the most important goal from I've been playing for Jamaica. I have scored 34 or 35 goals, but this is the most important," he noted.

"We started out very slow and gave up a goal in the very first minute, which wasn't good for us... We kept our focus and did what we had to do. We got the equaliser and I believed we could win the game for sure," said Shelton.

The speedy attacking player who plays for Turkish club Karabükspor made his senior debut for Jamaica in 2004 and in just eight years, is already the country's top scorer.

He has been capped at Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 levels for his country and is probably the only player to have scored four times on his debut.

In August 2005, Shelton was due to move to Football League Championship club Burnley after a successful pre-season trial. They attempted to sign him, but a work permit was rejected, and in August 2006, he joined Swedish outfit Helsingborg.

He went on to represent Sheffield United in England and Norwegian side Vålerenga in 2008.

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