Shel­lito true to Chelsea roots as he passes away

Bangkok Post - - FOOTBALL - JA­SON DASEY Ja­son Dasey is CEO of Cock­a­too Me­dia. Twit­ter: @Ja­sonDasey

The last days of Chelsea leg­end Ken Shel­lito were spent in a pub­lic hos­pi­tal in the Malaysian state of Sabah, sur­rounded by friends and fam­ily.

Even though he found it dif­fi­cult to speak, due to a lung in­fec­tion, he perked up when asked about the big­gest vic­tory from his Stam­ford Bridge days. “13-0,” he whis­pered, with what looked like a twin­kle in his eye. He was too weak to give any more de­tails, and would pass away just three days later at home, aged 78.

Sure enough, Chelsea’s record win was a 13-0 vic­tory over Lux­em­bourg part-timers Je­unesse Hautcharage in a Uefa Cup Win­ners’ Cup sec­ond-leg tie in Septem­ber 1971, when Peter Os­good scored five. Shel­lito had re­tired by that point, but re­mained an in­trin­sic part of the club, as youth team coach and man­ager.

He would dis­cover and de­velop some of the Blues’ great­est play­ers in­clud­ing Clive Walker and Ray Wilkins, with the lat­ter play­ing for Eng­land 84 times and ap­pear­ing in two World Cups. And he’d be­come first team boss — pre­ced­ing the likes of Clau­dio Ranieri, Jose Mour­inho and Carlo Ancelotti — for more than a year across the 197778 and 1978-79 sea­sons.

Shel­lito’s love of Chelsea stayed with him long af­ter his move to Malaysia via Sin­ga­pore and the United States in the 1990s to fur­ther his coach­ing ca­reer (he would man­age Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Sabah in the Malaysian top flight).

And the fact that he could still re­cite club stats from his death bed re­flects the depth of his af­fec­tions. His house, with the stun­ning view of Kota Kin­a­balu, was called Chelsea Hill, and it hosted his fu­neral, with an open cas­ket, on Nov 3.

My first meet­ing with Ken came a decade ago at AFC House — the head­quar­ters of the Asian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion in Kuala Lumpur — where he worked as a tech­ni­cal an­a­lyst.

In a small room, he would scru­ti­nise video re­plays of hun­dreds of Asian matches and write down his in­sights. I was vis­it­ing to in­ter­view then-AFC pres­i­dent Mo­hamed bin Ham­mam and was in­trigued by the sil­ver-haired man from Eng­land.

We would be­come friends when I moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2009 to host foot­ball for pay-TV op­er­a­tor Astro. Ken ap­peared as a stu­dio guest for our cov­er­age of the 2009 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup be­fore in­tro­duc­ing me to Sabah-based Scott Olleren­shaw, a for­mer Aus­tralia in­ter­na­tional who would be­come a reg­u­lar Astro pun­dit and good friend.

Ken’s sto­ries were al­ways en­ter­tain­ing, and gave me a taste of the Swing­ing Six­ties in west Lon­don. Ken was born in 1940, a few months be­fore Bea­tles Ringo Starr and John Len­non, and was signed by Chelsea as a 14-yearold on the same day as iconic Eng­land striker Jimmy Greaves. His prime was, ar­guably, when the Fab Four toured Amer­ica for the first time in early 1964.

He was born in East Ham, a short walk from Up­ton Park, the home of West Ham United. But there was never any doubt about Ken’s de­vo­tion to the blue side of the cap­i­tal city, play­ing in the 1958 FA Youth Cup fi­nal, and mak­ing his Chelsea first-team de­but the fol­low­ing sea­son. It was just be­fore his 19th birth­day.

Any­one who knew him will re­mem­ber Ken’s hearty laugh and in­fec­tious sense of hu­mour, his pas­sion for youth de­vel­op­ment, and his un­abashed de­vo­tion to the Blues.

He was proud of be­ing one of only a hand­ful of men to have played for Chelsea, man­aged Chelsea, and wore the colours of the Three Li­ons. And, yet, he was adamant that his move to South­east Asia a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago was one of the best de­ci­sions he ever made.

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