Jonjo Shelvey celebrates his goal for Rizespor. (Credit: @beINSPORTS_TR Twitter)

Jonjo Shelvey is thriving in the Turkish sun one halfway line howitzer at a time

A transfer to Turkey is unfairly considered a step down for most Premier League footballers, but we bet most of them would swap places with Jonjo Shelvey in a heartbeat right now.

Perhaps the most mercurial ‘nearly’ man the Barclays had seen over the last decade or so, the early promise in Shelvey’s career never quite turned into superstardom, with every moment of quality often marred with an equivalent red card or similar headloss.

His seven years with Newcastle contained a bit of everything, from relegation strugglers to Championship winners and eventually the Premier League’s comeback kings thanks to Saudi investment.

Shelvey already had one foot out the door by the time the Magpies were on the up, though, and the club’s takeover would ultimately prove to be the final nail in his coffin.

He left without any onlookers making much of a fuss, his experience and occasional bursts of talent likely enough to land him another shot in the English top flight – and it did.

But when it all unravelled at Nottingham Forest quicker than those new McDonald’s straws do in a milkshake, eyebrows began to be raised.

Why on earth did they bring him in for a relegation scrap? How is Jonjo Shelvey still a Premier League footballer? Did it work when he whacked a compilation of himself on the big telly at that infamous afterparty he hosted?

Jonjo’s seen it all, though. Been around long enough to know that he’s better than a has-been falling by the wayside.

Still under contract at Forest but without any direction, the Barclays’ last bastion of bald players packed his bags and waved goodbye to the so-called ‘best league in the world’ to take up an opportunity in what is actually the best division in world football – the Turkish Super Lig.

Regular Planet Football readers don’t need a reminder of why the Turkish Super Lig is that, but for those who aren’t familiar, we are massive fans of the chaos that goes on over there.

Ballers you completely forgot existed, Premier League greats, flops, cult heroes and everything in between, thrown into one beautiful melting pot and playing with the shackles off in the blazing sunset that Turkey provides.

One week it’s packed out stadiums, the next it’s half-empty stands and cats on the pitch. You simply cannot eclipse it.

Shelvey, being the sensible man he is now that he’s into the Autumn of his career, was wise to take up the opportunity presented to him by Rizespor, and boy has it paid off.

Away from the noise of the Premier League, our favourite mad lad has shrugged off the weight of expectation he’s had to shoulder his entire career, thought ‘f*ck it’ and reincarnated himself over there as a bald David Beckham.

How, exactly? By smashing in absolute worldies from the halfway line, in truly nonchalant fashion.

Jonjo, mate. You have rocked our world.

Beckham, Rooney, bit of Scholes with that textbook Shelvey aggression. Take your pick of hyperbole – he’s cooking and we love it.

With acres of space to drive into before him and plenty of blue shirts to hit with an equally gorgeous, line-splitting pass, Shelvey completely disregards all tactical discussion and most of the laws of physics and unleashes a cannon after spotting the goalkeeper in precarious territory.

That is a man playing with freedom. A man playing safe in the knowledge that he’s going home to some of the best food in the world, about a thousand fake Tommy Hilfiger towels to wash himself with and – if he’s feeling extra celebratory – an ice-cold Efes.

Tell us again about how the Premier League is supposedly the best league in the world, we dare you. Not having it in the slightest.

The 31-year-old is ageing like fine wine out in Turkey and we’re both extremely pleased and immensely jealous at the same time.

By Mitch Wilks

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