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Shaun Bartlett

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Position: Striker
Nationality: South African
Team: Charlton Athletic FC, England
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Shaun now plays for London based club Charlton Athletic in the English Premiership. The full South African international player is now settled at the club following playing spells in New York and Switzerland.
We talked to Shaun about playing and living in Britain.
Which English team did you support as a young boy?
Manchester United, because growing up in South Africa three quarters of the population support United and the other quarter support Liverpool.
What other team did you support?
Juventus in Italy, because I liked the way they used to play.
Who is your all time favourite player?
Ruud Gullit, he was a class player.
Give me a player for the future at Charlton?
Kemal Izzet, he's a good little player, a bright prospect. His brother is Muzzy Izzet who plays for Leicester.
What's the one thing you would change in football if you could?
That's a difficult one, I'd probably go with referee's decisions. I would like to see the fifth official in the stand. It's been proven it works in cricket and American football, so I think we should give it a chance.
What is your footballing dream?
My dream has always been to play football in England.
How do you think it's going for you at Charlton?
I think its going well, I'm not doing myself any harm by scoring goals and the only obstacle could probably be the national team and needing to go back and forth for that. But otherwise I don't see any problems.
When you played for FC Zurich in Switzerland did you speak German?
Yes, it was easier for me to learn German because in South Africa we have a language similar to Dutch, Africaans, so after a year I was fluent.
What was your first impression of English football?
To be quite honest everybody has been talking about the aggressiveness but I haven't had any problems with that, it's the same all over the world. Outside of England it's blown up out of proportion but I've haven't had a problem.
What's good about the Premier League?
Every team is very competitive and plays to win every week. Sometimes in places like Italy not every team plays to win, some weeks they play for a draw, but not in England.
What do you think of the fans?
Awesome, I've never played in an atmosphere like it, the people supporting you through the whole ninety minutes. I love it.
What's the best thing about the Premiership?
The fans - motivating you when you are down and encouraging you when you are leading.
So what's the worst thing about the Premiership?
The league demands a lot from you so you have to try and be on top form every time you play.
Which team has impressed you the most?
Definitely Manchester United and Liverpool, just the way they pass the ball around and make other teams run after it.
So how did it feel facing your boyhood team Man. Utd?
Well the manager told me I was in the squad the day before and I phoned everybody to tell them and that night I couldn't sleep. I was so nervous. I always get nervous before every game and personally I think it's a good thing as it gets the adrenaline going.
What did you think of David Beckham?
I think perhaps a little bit over rated. The only thing he did was pass the ball and take good free kicks and corners, I never saw him go one on one or beat anybody. But I would still say he's in a class of his own.
Who in the Premiership has made you say 'wow! he's brilliant'?
Definitely Ryan Giggs, he's been one of the best players I've seen over the last couple of years and probably will be for years to come.
Was the Premiership faster than you thought it would be?
The pace of the game surprised me a lot. It is definitely faster than I expected. It's ninety minutes of going from one end of the pitch to the other.
How disappointing was it going out of the FA Cup to Spurs?
It was very special to me being involved in the FA Cup for the first time. I think we were looking forward to playing Stockport County in the next round of the Cup when we were beating Spurs 2-0 during the game. It was really unfortunate that they eventually beat us but it's history now.
We heard President Nelson Mandela phoned you up and was unhappy because you didn't invite him to you're wedding?
Yes it's true he did. I am a good friend of his grand daughter but I never even thought of inviting the President at first. But he called me and I know it's a funny story but it was great to have him at my wedding.
What do you miss about South Africa?
Well usually at this time in Switzerland they have a winter break so I would normally be at home enjoying the sunshine and visiting my family, enjoying a barbecue. That's what I miss the most, but it's worth it to play in the Premiership.

June 2001

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