England’s 60s football star Ken plants himself in Malaysia
By Tony Mariadass
KEN Shellito uprooted his English ties to become a Malaysian and love every minute of his new life here in Sabah.
The one factor that brought this English football star of the 60s to the Malaysian shores was none other than the game itself.
Turning 74 on April 18, Shellito continues his contribution to the game which he began as a 14-year-old when he signed up for Chelsea FC on April 18 too.
With 60 years of professional soccer background, Shellito who resides in Kota Kinabalu with his wife, Jeany Dison and their 14-month daughter, Kenya, he runs the Chelsea Football Club Sabah in Penampang.
He launched it last year and recruited several former Sabah state players who include Yap Wai Loon, Harun Laban, Ahman Omar Khan, Shariman Abdullah, Azah Ezrin and Suharmin Yusof to run the academy.
Shellito has been in Malaysia for 22 years now, after having spent 10 years of 25 years with Chelsea FC as a regular first team player and playing several hundred matches consisting of league, Cup, European and international matches until he was forced to retire in 1967 because of serious knee injury.
It was during the forced break to mend his knee that Shellito studied techniques of football in preparation for a career in football coaching.
He was first appointed as Youth Coach to Chelsea FC in 1967 and was responsible for the setting up the Academy to discover and develop potential young players. He was there for ten years before he was appointed team manager and coach for Chelsea Football Club for two full seasons finishing mid-table in the first division and reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
“It was the silliest decision I ever took and regret it till today. I was not cut out for a managerial job. I am always be a development coach, where the players are treated like my sons and am a father to them,” said Shellito recalling his days as a manager.
“I had to take hard decisions in leaving out players, being harsh with them and scolding them. This was totally different from development work. But after two seasons, I asked out.”
Shellito then left for the United States to help set up Football Academies there before he was coaxed by his good friend and former manager Tommy Docherty, to return home to coach and be assistant manager with Queen Parks Rangers in 1980. QPR finished third in the second division that season.
After a season, he moved to coach the Youth Crystal Palace team before having a brief stints as coach and assistant manager with Preston North End FC in 1983 and in 1987 as coach and assistant manager of Crystal Palace.
In was in 1989 that he ventured to Asia and came to Singapore as Coventry City FC’s representative to discover and coach school boys between ages 12 to 16 to prepare for a professional football.
In 1992, he was lured by the FA of Malaysia for a director of coaching job but as it did not materialise. Selangor FA picked him up to appoint him the director of coaching.
After a season he moved to coach Kuala Lumpur for four seasons, followed by a season with Perak before heading to Sabah in 1997 as director of coaching.
He returned to the Klang Valley to work with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as a match analyst before he coached MPPJ Selangor for a season to win the Malaysia Cup in 2003 before he was involved with the Malaysian Indian Football Association as their director of coaching for two years.
But having become a Permanent Resident of Malaysia he had already established his base in Kota Kinabalu where he acquired a piece of land near the hills and built his own home ten years ago.
“Ever since I stepped my foot onto Sabah, I fell in love with the State. The people are so friendly and the place is so beautiful. And it is a haven for with football work too.
“I had always wanted to set up an academy in Sabah and to enlist past players to be involved in the setup,” said Shellito who is passionate of development work.
“Football is my life. And I am glad that I am still at it at my ripe age. The game has certainly given me a great deal and it is only fair that I continue to give the game back as long as I can.”
Shellito has the proud record of not having been cautioned (yellow card) in his entire playing career!
Asked how as a defender he managed this incredible feat, he said: “My father told me when I was starting out my career that if I had to foul a player to stop him, I was only telling him that he was a better player than me.
“He told me to work hard to stop the opposing forwards and find ways, but never foul them. I stuck with his advice and have this proud record.”
As a parting shot, Shellito said he was sad that Chelsea was not in the running for the title.
“The best they can finish I think is third. They made many silly mistakes in many of their games which they should have won and are paying the price. They were inconsistent.
“As for the Champions League. I really do not know. It is going to be difficult.”