Shwan Jalal on his tough decision to retire, why Chesterfield was "unbearable" at times, his "brilliant" relationship with fans and next chapter at Rochdale

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It was a decision which was not taken lightly but one Shwan Jalal was fully prepared for.

The experienced goalkeeper, who has spent the last two years at Chesterfield, has hung up his gloves after 20 years in the game.

Well, that is not strictly true because the 37-year-old has just started a new job as head of academy goalkeeping at Rochdale.

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But he will no longer be running out in front of thousands of fans on a Saturday afternoon and that is the main thing he will miss, he told the DT.

Shwan Jalal has retired after 20 years in the game, finishing his career at Chesterfield.Shwan Jalal has retired after 20 years in the game, finishing his career at Chesterfield.
Shwan Jalal has retired after 20 years in the game, finishing his career at Chesterfield.

“It was a very difficult decision and I don’t think it has properly sunk in yet,” Jalal said.

“Obviously I am not getting any younger and it was always in the back of my mind that I was coming towards the end of my career.

“It was extremely difficult because it is all I have known since school but I am excited about the next chapter and I am just glad I have made that transition because it is well documented that a lot of footballers retire and are then in the wilderness so I think I have been very lucky but I feel like I have prepared well to make that transition as well.

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“I talked it through with my family and a lot of people including my old Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and my old goalkeeping coaches so it was not a decision taken lightly.

Jalal spent two years at the Blues and built up a good relationship with the Spireites faithful.Jalal spent two years at the Blues and built up a good relationship with the Spireites faithful.
Jalal spent two years at the Blues and built up a good relationship with the Spireites faithful.

“I was overwhelmed with all the messages that I received when I announced my decision."

Jalal’s contract at the Spireites expired during the summer and, in the end, manager John Pemberton decided not to offer him a new deal and instead brought in former Salford City stopper Kyle Letheren.

But Jalal insists he left on good terms and has no bad feelings towards the club.

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“I had hoped that maybe I would have stayed at Chesterfield for another year,” he explained. “I think my performances certainly warranted another year but obviously due to the situation things changed.

"He (Pemberton) was quite honest with me from the get-go and he was very kind enough to send me a text the other day to wish me all the best which was a really nice gesture and we parted on very amicable terms.

"There were no promises given to me or anything like that.

“I would have liked to have stayed to be honest. I would not have liked to go anywhere else because I really enjoyed playing at Chesterfield.”

The former Bournemouth and Macclesfield keeper, who has never been relegated in his career, is hoping the Blues have turned a corner and will be keeping a close eye on their results – but he is not convinced by one part of their transfer business so far.

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“I was a bit surprised, speaking honestly, at the amount of players that were retained from last season but that’s John’s prerogative and he has been very focused in the way he wants to go and I think he should be given that chance because he did get the team playing well and very organised,” he said.

“I think whether he is going to get any resources to strengthen any further is going to play a big part but I was lucky enough to be a part of a Macclesfield team that had no budget and still managed to win the league so it definitely can’t be ruled out.”

Jalal joined Town in 2018 with the aim of getting another promotion on his CV but, as we know, large parts of the last two seasons have been fighting against relegation.

And the former Tottenham Hotspur youngster is clear in his mind where it all went wrong and even went as far as saying it was “unbearable” at times.

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He said: “I like to think I am experienced enough to know when things are done well and when things are not done well and I think behind the scenes it was not as good as it should have been.

“When things are not done right, we as players just go out there and play but there were times which were probably quite unbearable.

"At times we didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t know what the team was going to be, we had not worked on anything.

"I think it has been echoed by quite a few players so what I am saying isn’t really that new but us experienced players could see it coming from a mile off.

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“It was just one of those things that didn’t work out and I will reflect on it during my coaching experience and learn from it really.”

The next chapter for Jalal is a head of academy goalkeeping role at Rochdale.

He will work with the club’s upcoming players from ages nine to 18 as well as be in charge of recruitment.

Jalal’s son is in the Rochdale academy and the opportunity came up after the previous coach left and Shwan impressed during an interview.

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Eventually, he hopes to coach in the Premier League which is one division he never got to play in.

“It is a really challenging job,” he said. “One that I am finding is getting more and more challenging but one which I am enjoying.”

Reflecting on his Spireites career, Jalal said his relationship with the fans will always be something he looks back on fondly.

“The Chesterfield fans have been really, really amazing to me and top draw,” he added. “A lot of the goodwill messages came from Chesterfield fans so I just really wish them the best of luck and just hope that they can go back up.

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“The relationship I had with them behind the goal was absolutely fantastic.

“I wear my heart on my sleeve and I celebrated every goal we scored with them.

"I really was hoping we could do something but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be."