League Two defender: This Newcastle player was my hardest ever opponent
By Aramide Oladipo
Rotherham United defender Will Vaulks has named Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey as the hardest opponent he has had to face during his career.
The 24-year-old encountered Shelvey last season when both sides were playing their football in the Championship.
Whilst the Magpies managed to win the division and achieve promotion back to the Premier League, Rotherham finished rock bottom and suffered relegation to League One.
Rafa Benitez’s side came out on top in both matches with a 1-0 win at Rotherham followed by a convincing 4-0 victory at St James’ Park.
Shelvey contributed with an assist in each match and in a recent interview, Vaulks revealed that the midfielder is the toughest player he has come up against throughout his playing days.
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“I was tasked with literally following him around the pitch wherever he went. It didn’t matter where the ball was, I was following him around, which he got very frustrated at,” he told the Daily Express.
“The way he plays, he is someone you should look up to. I know he has a bit of stuff off the pitch, but he is very composed and confident in his own ability, probably arrogant but that’s what makes him so good.
“I admired him because he was getting wound up with me but he still tried to get the ball and then eventually his quality showed.
‘Rafa Benitez said to our manager that it had been quite effective because they had struggled to get him on the ball.
“It meant that other Newcastle players had to go try and win the game because he was their best player by a mile in the Championship.”
The Englishman was one of the standout performers for the Magpies last season, scoring a total of five goals and providing an impressive 12 assists in all competitions.
The midfielder has endured a tough start to life back in the Premier League after he received a red card in the opening day defeat against Tottenham at St James’ Park.
Shelvey has made six appearances for the Tyneside club this season but so far, he has failed to provide a single goal or assist in the process.
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