Interview with James Shea
In the build up to Monday night’s FA Cup Third Round fixture against Liverpool, www.PRO-GK.com caught up with the man tasked to keep the EPL giants at bay. The AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper has seen both sides of the footballing spectrum, from a career starting with Arsenal, to a season playing semi professionally in the Ryman Premier League.
PRO-GK: James, thanks for joining us! So with a massive FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Premier League giants Liverpool on Monday, What was your reaction when they were pulled out of the hat ?
JS: I remember watching it, Arsenal came out first and I was desperate for us to get them, but unfortunately we didn’t. We didn’t have to wait long, as soon as Liverpool come out I was BUZZING! It’s a fantastic game to be a part of; I can’t wait for Monday !
PRO-GK: Being that your career started at Arsenal, would you have preferred to face The Gunners ?
JS: Yes, that would have been my ideal draw to get! But I’m not complaining at all. You never know, if we beat Liverpool, we could be drawn against them in the next round! That’s the beauty of the FA Cup!
PRO-GK: Can you tell us a little but about your time at the club ? How old were you when you joined ? Who was the best player you played with there and how did it come about when you trained with the full England national team ?
JS: I joined Arsenal at the age of 10, I was there until I was 22. I had a great time there and learnt a lot, I was lucky enough to be part of a great youth team that managed to win the FA Youth Cup and Premier Youth League.
I played with a lot of great players there, but I would have to say Jack Wilshere was the best! You could tell he was going to be a superstar!
I never managed to make a first team appearance but was able to be on the bench in all competitions, so that was a great experience for me.
I was lucky enough to train with England, they used to use the Arsenal Training Ground at London Colney, one day they needed a goalkeeper, so I made sure it was me! It was great experience to train with them. I really enjoyed the experience of training with Joe Hart.
PRO-GK: On your release from Arsenal, you went on trial at Colorado Rapids of the MLS. How did your time in the US go ?
JS: Yes that’s right, I went over to America and I really enjoyed it. It was a bit different to English football, everything was a bit more laid back and they wanted to me stay out there for the season, but I had to make a decision and chose to come back to England. I wanted to try and make a career in England first. I would definitely go back out there later in my career though as I really did enjoy it.
PRO-GK: On your return to the UK, you signed for Non League, Harrow Borough. Was that a bit of a culture shock for you ?
JS: Yes! It was, but I loved every single minute it! It taught me a lot, it was men’s football, where it meant something to people! The pitches weren’t great and you would play in front of small crowds, but I loved it! I wish I would have done it when I was younger as it really helped in my development.
PRO-GK: You signed for AFC Wimbledon at the start of this season, competing for the No1 jersey with fellow PRO-GK Endorsee’s Ross Worner & Joe McDonnell. How has your time with the club gone so far ?
JS: It’s been great at Wimbledon! To get back into full time football was my aim, and now I’m back in it, I want to stay here and hopefully kick on. It’s great to work with Ross and Joe everyday, they are both top keepers, the goalkeeping competition at Wimbledon is very good!!
PRO-GK: Joining Wimbledon, you obviously work with Goalkeeping Coach, Ashley Bayes on a daily basis. How have you enjoyed working with Bayzo ?
JS: It’s been GREAT working with Bazyo! He is a character! He’s great to be around and a great coach, I’ve been working with him for about 6 months and I feel Ive improved by working with him everyday, he brings the confidence out in you, and I feel that is massive part of being a keeper!
PRO-GK: You’ve been wearing the PRO-GKs since the start of this season, how have the gloves been ? With all the options in goalkeeping gloves out there, why did you decide to wear them ?
JS: The gloves have been fantastic!! Bazyo gave me a pair in pre season to try out, straight away, I love the feel and fit of them, they are very comfortable, the grip is excellent which gives me a lot of confidence in my hands. I wear a roll finger, they don’t feel too thick like other gloves i’ve worn in the past, from day one I’ve felt comfortable in them.I couldn’t imagine wearing anything different now! All the goalkeepers from Academy to Youth Team wear PRO-GK, We are all glove nuts, so we always love having a good chat about gloves!
AFC Wimbledon V Liverpool, Monday 5th January 2015, Live on BBC 1 at 19.55.