Gabriano and El Nino Shelton are two brothers who have been going through the ranks at English Premier League side Liverpool since 2017.
The brothers are sons of Enrico and Shirese Shelton, who hail from East London, in the Eastern Cape. Their parents studied at Selborne College before Enrico went to serve in the British Army and for years has been stationed in various countries all over the world.
Gabriano, a box-to-box midfielder was born in England and El Nino a striker was born in Germany, but both players hold British citizenship.
Gabriano started playing in November 2013 at the age of six while El Nino started a year later in 2014 aged just four. Both youngsters started playing while their parents were stationed in Germany playing for SV Avenwedde and PRB Gütersloh.
Their development continued when they were in Cyprus featuring in the youth ranks of Apoel FC for a few years before moving to England. After moving to England in October 2017 they played for All Stars in Wigan and later attended trials at clubs like Manchester United, Burnley and eventually Liverpool who snatched them.
Gabriano is with Liverpool’s U-14s while El Nino is with the club’s U-11 side. Both players are going through proper development at Anfield under the guidance of some of the world’s best development coaches.
Speaking about the journey his sons have taken and the possibilities for the future Enrico said, “Like any kid they hope to feature at international level one day and carve out a long career at Liverpool FC. They do realise that it is a long painful road but the important thing is to keep fighting to make your dream a reality. They are both doing very good academically and luckily you have the option here in England to further your studies through your club, so if you do not make the grade football wise then you still walk away with amazing memories and an education under your belt,” he explained.
“We are aware that this is only the initial stages of the journey and kids get released from clubs every season for various reasons. We are under no illusion that the harsh reality is that the statistics show fewer than 1% of kids make it to the (English) Premier League, but for us it’s taking it one step at a time,” he continued.
“We will continue to support the boys and motivate them to give their best without adding any unnecessary pressure because at the end of the day they are only kids who are playing a game that they love. When you meet former Liverpool players in the canteen then you realise what a big deal it is and why it is a massive achievement.”
“We thank God as a family for granting the boys this opportunity and trust Him completely for what the future holds. I hope this will encourage young and old that dreams can come true. Do not let your circumstances or what people say about you dictate what you become in life. While you are still alive there is still a chance to dream big and make those dreams a reality,” he concluded.
By Prince Sobayeni