Alan Shearer’s in-depth interview with Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles is on The Premier League Show at 22:00 GMT on Thursday on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website.I had not met Jamaal Lascelles before I interviewed him for this week’s Premier League Show but now I can see why Rafael Benitez made him Newcastle’s captain.It is a job that I have been lucky enough to have done myself, so I understand the pressure and the responsibility that comes with the armband.
Jamaal clearly does too. He sees being Newcastle skipper as an honour, just like I did, and he definitely has the kind of character you need to be the leader at my old club.It is a lot to take on at any age but he deserves even more credit when you consider he is the youngest captain in the top flight.Jamaal turns 24 on Saturday and has only started 20 Premier League games but, from sitting down and talking to him, you would not think that he lacked any experience.
He was down to earth, honest and very open. I had already been impressed by Jamaal as a player this season, and I was impressed by him as a person too.Saying what he thinks is part of the job.One of the most important things about being Newcastle captain is your relationship with the supporters. You have to understand them, and what they want see.They love anyone who works hard, gives their all and fights for everything, and I think that’s why they have taken to Jamaal so much – because they appreciate he does all of that.The feeling is mutual. I could tell how much it meant to him when he talked about spotting the huge banner that fans had made of him in the Gallowgate End for the first time.
He wears his heart on his sleeve and leads by example when he is out on the pitch and he has the same approach when he is dealing with issues in the dressing room too.The training ground bust-up he had with Mo Diame last month, and particularly the way it was resolved, is a great example of that. So is the time he spoke up at half-time of Newcastle’s defeat at Southampton in April 2016, when he was not even a regular in the team.Jamaal explained why he is not afraid to say what he thinks if he feels it is for the good of the team, and that is typical of his whole approach.He just sees it as part of the job of being captain – which is exactly right.How Benitez has played a big part in his development
It was telling that Jamaal spoke about the team so much, even when I asked him questions about his own situation, and he was quick to acknowledge the influence of Rafael Benitez too.Jamaal was full of praise for Benitez as a person, and of course as a manager as well, for the part he has played in every aspect of his development.In terms of improving him as a defender, it was fascinating to hear about the level of detail Benitez puts into in training, going beyond the work on tactics and team shape that he is renowned for. He has taught Jamaal a lot about the art of man-management too, since making him his skipper at the start of last season.Benitez has been helping him along the way, giving his advice on how to react to situations, and there cannot be many better managers to learn all of that from. England could come calling too
Jamaal has recently signed a new long-term contract at St James’ Park and it is obvious how much he is enjoying his football at the moment.Hopefully the ankle injury he sustained in Saturday’s defeat by Bournemouth is not a serious one and, although that was a disappointing result, Newcastle have still made a positive start to the season.I think he knows they will have some ups and downs but they are a young team and they will improve.The same applies to him as an individual too.He played in the same England Under-20 side as Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Ross Barkley and there has been talk of him following them into the full team.But he is not the type to get carried away by the thought he could make the England squad for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.One of the things he talked about a lot throughout the interview was consistency and the importance of keeping his concentration and, at the moment, he is just focused on continuing to do well for Newcastle.If he does that, then an international call-up could happen, and one thing is for sure – he will be giving it a good go.Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
Source: BBC Tyne and Wear