Interviews

The FYP Interview - Shefki Kuqi

Written by Jim Daly

He's most famous for flopping onto his belly when he scores goals, but at Palace Shefki Kuqi was mostly remembered for just being a bit of a flop.

FYP editor James Daly caught up with the big man while he was in London looking for a new club, to chat about his memories of playing for the Eagles.

FYP: Firstly, thanks for not flipping us off just now. But that moment, against Wovles a few years ago, certainly tainted your reputation with Palace fans.

Shefki Kuqi: I did that [gesture] to the fans but I didn't really realise like I said [at the time] and I apologised to everybody. The gaffer [Warnock] said to me after the game and I was a little bit like 'what are you talking about?' and didn't realised what I'd done. But I managed to turn things around the fans accepted that and I just got on with it.

FYP: Well yes, but after some time. You were told to go home weren't you? That's tough to take.

SK: It depends how you take things, I thought the gaffer was a little bit harsh, because at first he told me everything was fine, the next day [changed his mind] but that's football. The first four games or something I wasn't allowed to train with the team and then we drew one and lost three. We couldn't score a goal, that opened the back door for me, it was a turning point.

FYP: Well yeah you came back in, mainly cos our other forwards were useless, and scored quite a few.

SK: After that spell when I was out of the team and then the gaffer told me to go home I came back and I think I scored three or four goals in the first two or three games and everything turned around.

FYP: Do you understand the fans' anger toward you at the time?

SK: As a fan sometimes things go wrong and you're going to be disappointed, as a player on the pitch sometimes when things don't go right you're more angry with yourself than everybody else. Then somebody says some things and just in that moment maybe you react in the wrong way but that's the way sometimes it goes. Lots of other things have happened in my life outside of football so you have to be able to deal with that. I always said that football has been to a kind of pleasurable pressure, if that makes sense. Not like I cannot handle this, I knew I could.

FYP: Ooh, you're a pressure junkie. Do you thrive on it?

SK: Yeah, that's the thing, when I've been in a couple of places where fans have booed, it has given me more motivation [to succeed].

FYP: Speaking of pressure, Simon Jordan released his book recently. What's your opinion of him?

SK: I saw him a few times when I was there and sometimes I felt sorry for him because you walk through that door and you think some of the people 'do they care that much?' I think some were just happy to get paid, on the other hand I think as chairman he could have done a little bit more, people didn't see him enough, and he took his eye off things a little bit.

FYP: Well, yes, quite. And now he's broke. Was it his own fault?

SK: It's hard to understand because he put so much money in at end of the day. He had people there trying to do a job for him, trying to run the club and if they don't well it creates problems. Nowadays everyone understands how things went [for Jordan] and football is a big business now. No longer do people just play and love it because of their passion, now it's more or less a business. If you don't run it properly, you pay big money and if you cant use that you're gonna struggle. It depends how you do it, if you've got that academy you can go and try and invest more in that to get players through to the first-team, sell them on and you're gonna make some money.

FYP: You must have seen some of those lads come through while you were at Palace.

SK: Yeah, Clyney was just coming through and Victor Moses was there as well. Nowadays there is loads of talent but there is a big question about their attitudes and their heads because most of them have got everything a player needs but they think they're millionaires before they even get into the first-team.

FYP: Oh really? Did you think that of any of the Palace youngsters?

SK: Well, Moses for me he had everything but I think he was a little bit lazy, he didn't look like he took things seriously. Sometimes he was just happy to do what we did in training and that was it. You never saw him do anything extra. But he was as strong as anybody, even though he was so young. He just hated the gym, he was one of the last to come in and first to leave. But he's done really well and I'm pleased for him.

FYP: What about Dougie? Did he strike you as management material?

SK: Yes, definitely. He was a very, very intelligent player and he was the one who was doing his stuff right; going in the gym, he really looked after himself well. He was very disciplined and as soon as he got the job I knew what he was capable of because discipline was everything about him. He's got that transferred to a manager role well. Loads of people say you change when they go from being a player to a manager but I think Dougie's done really well. He's transferred himself from being a player to a manager and I think Palace had a great season last season. They are disciplined and have got their own ideas and know what they want to do and they can definitely achieve things [this season].

FYP: Palace are struggling now but do you think they can turn it around?

SK: I think so. I trained with them last season at the beginning of the season because I didn't have a contract. I trained and I saw what they are doing and as long as the players have that in their head when they go on the pitch [they'll do well]. Palace are taking big steps forward at the moment.

FYP: Ooh good stuff! Finally, what's your celebration all about?

SK: (laughs) Oh I don't know really! It's just that moment when you score a goal, I've done loads of different things before. Sometimes you do stupid things and you don't even know what it's all about but it's just the moment. Mine seems to be quite popular, it is special the way I go quite high I guess.

FYP: Does it hurt?

SK: Nah, not really. I wouldn't do it it if hurt me!

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