'I want to scream when I see Sterling walk past!' - Man City FIFA pro Shellzz has something to prove

Manchester City
Despite having tasted victory in his first ever tournament and moved onto representing a Premier League club, Shellzz still has success in his sights

When Shaun "Shellzz" Springette won the PlayStation Division in his first ever professional FIFA tournament, you knew he was going to go far.

And while he has had impressive showings since, he has not quite been able to fulfil his potential and finally win a tournament.

That burden has weighed heavily on his shoulders, and consequently the youngster has had a difficult season in which he has not qualified for as many live events as he would have expected.

Still, that has not stopped him, and after a number of strong performances with the help of a mental coach, Shellzz is looking to end the season on a high at the FIFA 19 Global Series Playoffs, where he could qualify for the biggest tournament of the year if he can secure a high finish.

Goal caught up with him to talk through his season and find out what it is like representing Manchester City as a FIFA player...

When you were leaving UNILAD, you told Goal that you had always dreamed of playing for a football club. You managed to achieve that with Manchester City, how has that experience been so far?

"It's been a good time. Growing up of course I wanted to be a football player and this is honestly the next best thing. I've qualified for events that I wasn't able to before and I've had the chance to go down to the facilities and meet all the players.

"I just want to scream when I see Raheem Sterling walk past, I have to try to keep it in and act cool. I also just love wearing the City shirt. I remember putting it on for the first time and I felt so proud."

Rightfully so, it's an astonishing achievement. During that time when you were a free agent, did you have offers from any other football clubs or esports organisations? If so, what made Manchester City stand out above them?

"I did get offers from other football teams but Man City are a huge club, Premier League champions twice in a row now. I just wanted something safe. I knew what I was going to get from City while with an esports organisation you don't always know what to expect.

"Of course I've seen City at events and met Will [Pithers] who looks after NYFC Chris and Marcus Gomes, so I knew it wouldn't be a bad decision."

This season has had its ups and downs for you but things have been better recently. Can you talk us through the last year?

"It's been a really tough year for my expectations. I haven't qualified for many events which was really disappointing at the start. I know I can compete and it sucks when you're going to events and not actually playing.

"I went to Bucharest and some of the FUT Champions Cups in London where players had asked me to coach or come down for support. I'm always happy to do that because I love supporting my friends, but while you're alone in the crowd when everyone else is playing, it brings you down and then you begin to self-doubt.

"After a few months, I qualified for FIFA eClub World Cup and FUT Cup 6, which I did really well at. It's nice to be back and let everyone know that I'm still good at the game."

Do you feel like you perform better at live events when there is more pressure on you?

"I think obviously at live events, everyone has the strongest team which I wasn't able to have for some of the online qualifiers. At live events everyone is at the same skill level, what separates you is how you feel mentally on the day.

"City got me a mental coach, which has been helping me out, and I think that was a key reason why I did so well at Cup 6. My head was clearer, I wasn't too nervous beforehand and I could just play my game.

"I've had terrible events and really good events in the past but because I hadn't qualified for many this year, I had that chip on my shoulder to shut everyone up and show them that I'm still here. I just wanted to prove all the doubters wrong."

You've spoken a lot in the past about how keeping strong mentally is crucial to professional FIFA - how has that mental coach helped you out?

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"It's tough because your confidence is always based on performances. When you're not qualifying for events, you do take a hit but you have to just keep going and keep trying.

"Qualifying for the FIFA eClub World Cup with Ryan was huge at the time because it gave me points, but more importantly some hope. I performed well which gave me a boost into the next qualifier.

"The performance coach just helped remind me that it was in my control, I just have to keep believing in myself, keep my head down and keep on working hard to get results."