Newcastle United number one Rob Elliot has called for equality in the game, speaking out about the unacceptable abuse Jonjo Shelvey continues to receive surrounding his alopecia during ‘every’ game.
The 25-year old midfielder has suffered with alopecia (hair loss) from an early age and although he doesn’t always help himself with some of his antics on the field, he is a regular target of abuse both on and off the pitch according to the NUFC stopper.
Speaking to The Chronicle, Elliot has opened up about the the harmful abuse Shelvey continues to take on a weekly basis, defending his mentality and ability to ignore it so well, but stressing the importance for action to be taken:
“We all know about Jonjo’s ability and his mentality.
“But what you have to realise – and it’s a point I have stressed a lot of times which doesn’t get picked up on in public – you talk about all of this equality and stuff like but it doesn’t seem to apply to this.
“Jonjo gets abuse from all the away fans every week because of a condition he’s got. Everybody laughs about it because he’s Jonjo and he’s a white lad or bald skinhead. But he’s not, he’s got alopecia and it’s a condition.
“And it does get to him (abuse). I’m not saying it gets to him badly. But what you have to realise is that he’s still a young man and he handles the pressure really well.
“He gets abuse everywhere he goes.”
Some pretty honest and powerful words from Elliot here, who offers a real insight into Shelvey’s struggles with alopecia and the unfair treatment he receives from opposition fans as a result.
With this in mind, here’s what Shelvey – who was recently accused of racism – had to say when speaking to the Daily Mail about the abuse he has received recently:
“I have to live with it.
“We played Leeds last season and when I went out to warm up it was: “Shelvey you racist”.
“We played Wigan at home and a lad in their team came straight through me in the first minute, straight down the back of my calf.
“Then he has slapped me on the head as I got up and called me a “Bald racist c**t”. Then he ran off. But you are going to get that as that is what I have been accused of doing.
“I am going to take it because I have to. Judgement was made. I am not one to be overly bothered.
“I know deep down who I am. If my daughter was getting something at nursery or something then that is when it will become a problem. But to shout stuff at me, fine.
“They are not gonna come on the pitch and punch me in the face are they? What can people actually do to me to hurt me? Not much.”
Quite shocking stuff from Shelvey – a man who appears to have built up pretty thick skin to cope with the abuse he so often receives.
Finally, back to Elliot, who emphasises the importance of Shelvey in our team, stating we are a better side with him on the pitch:
“His performances since coming back have meant the spotlight has been on him because of what happened against Spurs.
“And it’s just great for him to show his quality, because when Jonjo is on the pitch we are a better team and I think it shows.”
Shelvey doesn’t help himself sometimes, but details of the abuse both talk about here is quite frankly wrong and Elliot does a good job here to raise awareness of his condition and the effect it has on him.