Shamal George On Coming Through At Liverpool, Playing Under Jurgen Klopp And Life At Livingston

Shamal George On Coming Through At Liverpool, Playing Under Jurgen Klopp And Life At Livingston

An interview with Shamal George, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You joined Scottish Premiership side Livingston in the summer of 2022. How did you hear about their interest and how do you reflect on your time at the club so far? 

“The first time that I actually heard about the interest from Livingston was on Twitter.

“There were a few rumours that they were interested and I contacted my agent to ask if they were true.

“Thankfully, he confirmed that the interest was genuine and once both clubs had agreed on terms, I spoke to David Martindale and I was sold on the move right away.

“Scottish football is regularly on television and it is a good standard too.

“I am loving my time at the club and testing myself against teams such as Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen is a great challenge.

“We have had some big results in recent years such as drawing against Rangers at Ibrox and beating Hibs at Easter Road.

“We do not have the biggest budget in the league by any means and many pundits write us off as relegation candidates every season but we continue to punch above our weight.

“We have quality players in our dressing room, every single player works their socks off and long may that continue.

“We have started the season well and hopefully we can have a strong campaign overall.”

As a young player, you came through the youth system at Liverpool Football Club. What are your memories of your academy days?

“Getting to the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup was a highlight because we faced Arsenal away from home, and the game was played at the Emirates.

“To play at such a stadium for the first time was amazing.”

You played for the first team in a few pre-season friendlies under Jürgen Klopp including one game as a striker. What was Jürgen like to work with and how on earth does a goalkeeper end up playing up front?

“Jürgen Klopp is top class and it was easy to see why he has achieved so much success in the game.

“He is demanding of every player in training and he has time for everyone whether you are a senior player or a young player like I was.

“I went to LA with the first team and we played Roma which was a great experience.

“However, the game that is often mentioned is the game that I played against Huddersfield as a striker like you mentioned.

“Basically, what happened was that we had used all of our outfield substitutes and I was still on the bench yet to come on.

“Then, Lucas Leiva suffered an injury and Jurgen told me to go and get warmed up as I was coming on to replace him.

“I honestly thought that he was taking the piss (laughs) so I stayed seated until he told me for the second time to get warmed up and that I would be coming on to play up front.

“I got myself ready and the kitman handed me a blank [outfield] players’ shirt and I went on to play for the final fifteen minutes of the game.

“It was a surreal experience and one that I won’t forget.”

You trained alongside first-team goalkeepers Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius and Brad Jones when with the first team. How did they treat you as a new player coming up to the first team?

“They were all great, to be honest.

“I have to say that Simon Mignolet was the best that I trained with out of those three. He was so impressive in every session.

“I was also fortunate to train briefly with Alisson before I left and he was a different level altogether.”

You went on loan to Non-League side Marine as a young goalkeeper. What was that experience like for you?

“I had two short loans at Carlisle United and Tranmere Rovers to go in as cover for the first team before the loan to Marine which I did not enjoy because I wanted to play.

“So, when the opportunity to go and be the starting goalkeeper at Marine was presented to me, I did not hesitate.

“It was such a useful experience for me because it allowed me to play regularly in competitive games and build my confidence up.

“My form there led to interest from Colchester United who I joined after leaving Liverpool on a permanent basis.”

You won Player of the Year during your time at Colchester United. How did that feel especially being a goalkeeper?

“When I joined the club, I was competing for the number one jersey with Dean Gerken who was an experienced EFL goalkeeper.

“Thankfully, I played a fair share of games during my first season before taking over as number one when Dean retired at the end of that season.

“Playing regularly in League Two was a good experience for me and to be able to win player of the year was a great feeling.

“To receive that recognition is always pleasing as it confirms that you are doing something right.”

Finally, Shamal, you are twenty five which is young for a goalkeeper so you have your best years ahead of you. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

“I am loving my time at Livingston and my main focus is to play well here and do my best to help the club continue to progress in the Scottish Premiership.

“However, I want to play at the highest level possible like every player does.

“My dream would be to one day play in the Premier League in England but reaching the highest level that I can is the aim.

“All that I can do is continue to work as hard as possible and control my own performances and what will be in the years to come will sort itself out.”