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Feature

Silkmen A-Z: Shwan Jalal

9 June 2019

We continue our look back at the Silkmen starts of yesteryear by featuring a goalkeeper who made his mark at Bournemouth, before helping create unforgettable memories here at the Moss Rose.

Shwan Saman Jalal was born in Baghdad, Iraq in August 1983. Moving to the south of England as a young boy, he grew up in Hastings, East Sussex.

Shwan started playing football at the age of seven and was initially an outfield player, playing on the left wing. However, by his own admittance he wasn’t the biggest fan of running - so when an opportunity came along to move in goal, he snapped it up!

That was at the age of twelve and he hasn’t looked back since.

Shwan joined the youth system at Gillingham in 1998 at the age of fifteen. He spent a year with The Gills before moving to Hastings Town's Youth Team in 1999. He broke into the First Team at Hastings the following year whilst still a teenager and immediately began attracting attention from Football League clubs.

The big money move came in 2001 when Shwan signed for Tottenham Hotspur and spent three years at White Hart Lane. However, First Team football failed to materialise and Shwan recently mused that this period is perhaps his biggest regret in football:

“My biggest regret is not doing everything I possibly could to make it at Spurs. I picked up a few injuries in my time there, but I think that it was probably more down to my lifestyle off the pitch which let me down”

A loan move to Woking in 2002 resulted in a permanent move two years later. It was at Kingfield that he finally got a real taste of First Team football, as he made over one hundred appearances for The Cards over a three year period. He also made five appearances for the England C team during that time.

A number of further loan deals followed, before a move to Peterborough in 2007. Again sent out on loan, it was one of these short term deals that introduced Shwan to Bournemouth - the club where he was to arguably to make his biggest impact in a number one shirt.

Bournemouth had just been relegated to League Two and had been forced into administration early in 2008. The prospect of a tough season ahead was made even more dire when The Cherries were handed an incredible seventeen point deduction before the season had even started. Shwan admitted that he was perhaps a bit naive about the club's financial situation at the time, but desperate to play regular football he signed on the dotted line in July 2008.

An incredible season was to follow for both player and club. With a number of management changes taking place before former player Eddie Howe was appointed, many thought that Bournemouth were dead and buried. Shwan was dropped by Howe in early 2009 and was told that the new manager needed “something more” from him. Taking on the chin, Shwan was ready to get his head down and win his place back in the team.

Shwan, and indeed the whole Bournemouth squad, didn’t look back and were to escape relegation on the final day of the 2008/09 season - an achievement that has rightly been dubbed “The Great Escape”.

What followed for Bournemouth was the stuff football dreams are made of and Shwan was with them almost every step of the way. The Cherries rose through the leagues and were promoted to the Championship in 2013. Shwan had continued to feature in goal, but as the club climbed higher and higher he found that regular games were drying up for him.

Searching for opportunities, he went on loan to both Oxford United and Leyton Orient, before parting ways with Bournemouth in June 2014 to join Bury.

Failing to establish himself at Gigg Lane, a move to Northampton Town followed, before Shwan made his way to the Moss Rose in August 2015. He went straight into the side for the opening game of the season and made an immediate impact - regularly keeping clean sheets throughout the 2015/16 season. He did suffer a few injuries and although offered a new contract, opted to cross the border to join Wrexham in the summer of 2016.

However, perhaps the temptation of the Moss Rose was too strong and he rejoined Macclesfield after a season with The Red Dragons - going straight into the team once again as first-choice keeper.

Shwan’s second spell with Macc was even more successful. An impressive eighteen clean sheets and some gravity-defying saves helped to secure the National League title for The Silkmen in 2017/18 and earned Shwan a place in the National League Team of the Season.

Shwan moved to newly-relegated Chesterfield last summer and manager Martin Allen immediately gave him the seal of approval in a Daily Mail article. When asked about the £72million that Chelsea had just paid for new 'keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, Allen said:

“My new goalkeeper, Shwan Jalal, came here on a free from Macclesfield - the team who won our league last season. Jalal or Kepa Arrizabalaga? I’ll take my man all day long.”

Shwan has definitely had some notable successes throughout his career and been part of some memorable moments. But Silkmen fans will always remember him for the huge part he played in our historic championship season and, for that alone, Shwan has earned his place in our A to Z.


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