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Shashoua’s no sheep

Shashoua’s no sheep


Moving from a Premier League club to the Spanish second division seems like a very big drop. But it’s not that simple. The story of Samuel Shashoua shows why playing abroad could be a golden ticket for young footballers.


Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker. 

One story every day to make sense of the world of football. 

Today… Samuel Shashoua is not a sheep.


When Jimmy Greaves secured a transfer to AC Milan in 1961, everything seemed perfectly set up. 

His record of 41 goals in 40 league games for Chelsea the season before meant the Italian side were willing to pay him 140 pounds per week.

He earned just 20 pounds back in England. 

But the move was doomed to failure. Greaves could not stomach the change of culture and strict regime. The Italian press called him a “spoiled brat”. 

He said he was “frightened, frustrated, bored, aggravated and depressed”. He said the move was the catalyst for what followed… alcoholism. 

“Britain’s homesick soccer star, Jimmy Greaves is back in the country he seems to miss so much but left eight days ago to honour his contract with AC Milan. Greaves’ services cost Milan a hundred thousand pounds, of which Greaves himself got fifteen thousand pounds. But he’s now decided that Italy is no place for him. Indeed, the Sporting Press of Britain is reporting this morning that Greaves is back in this country for good.”

Archive footage

But times have changed. Fifty years later, a number of young English stars have taken the leap and moved abroad. 

The wealth of the Premier League means English football can afford the biggest stars in the game. And academy players at these clubs can struggle for playing time. 

Since moving to Roma from Chelsea last season, Tammy Abraham has scored eight times in 21 appearances. 

“Tammy Abraham! Turned it home brilliantly. And Tammy Abraham breaks the deadlock at the Olimpico.”

BT Sport

And former Birmingham City man Jude Bellingham has played 73 times for Borussia Dortmund in Germany. He’s still only 18. 

Not all moves abroad are quite so lucrative, though.

Samuel Shashoua is a Tottenham youth product. Here he is representing England Under-17s.

“Good turn from Shashoua…still causing problems for Bianchi there. Shashoua into the box…down he goes! Penalty England.” 

England – The FA YouTube

He’s now 22. And he’s playing in Spain’s second division – for Tenerife. 

In the past, his hopes of a senior England call-up would have been all-but over with a move to Spain’s lower leagues. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Yet modern technology means that Coaches can watch videos from pretty much any league in the world from their laptop. 

And so Samuel Shashoua is enjoying life in Tenerife, and still hoping there’s a chance he might one day feature for his country.

“Shashoua, Shashoua, gol! Gol gol gol gol gol gol gol gol gol gol. De Shashoua el Inglés….”

La Liga TV

But when you’ve been part of the Tottenham youth academy, it means you’re already ahead of thousands of young footballers who dream of making it that far. 

Moving from a Premier League club, albeit as a reserve, to the Spanish second division seems like a very big drop. 

So what’s the benefit of making that move abroad?

“When you’re abroad you have so much time to yourself…you kind of learn about yourself. You learn what’s good for you, what’s not good for you and yeah…you become your own person rather than being like a sheep…”

Sky Sports

Samuel says that without a “herd” of friends to follow, he’s been allowed to think, learn and improve. 

And even though he sees former England teammates like Mason Mount thriving in the Premier League, he says he’s learned not to make comparisons. To follow his own path. 

And he wants that path to take him back to a higher level. Taking a big drop down doesn’t have to equal a lack of ambition.

“Playing in La Liga…Premier Liga top division…that’s my first ambition probably. And then hopefully getting to a World Cup. That would be pretty special…playing in a World Cup.”

Sky Sports

A lot has changed in 50 years. 

From Jimmy Greaves’ homesickness to a player moving to Tenerife with the hope of one day playing in a World Cup. 

Are Samuel Shashoua’s ambitions realistic? Maybe not. 

But by separating from the flock, he’s at least given himself a fighting chance.

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Studio Klong.