Luton Shelton, the former Jamaica hot-shot striker, has died aged just 35 only a few years after retiring from the sport he loved.
The Kingston-born ace had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which was only diagnosed in 2018, and passed away at his home from complications with the motor neuron disease yesterday (22 January). ALS is an illness that causes the motor neurons inside the spinal cord to die and over time causes muscles to degenerate progressively eliminating the ability of the affected person to move, speak, swallow and eventually breathe.
He kicked off and ended his illustrious career with Harbour View after retiring from the game, representing seven other clubs between his 11-year hiatus from the Kingston-based Jamaica National Premier League outfit.Shelton played a major role on the international scene with Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.
He made an immediate impact in November 2004, becoming the only Jamaican to score four goals on their debut, showing his finishing skills in their 12-0 demolition of St. Martin in the Caribbean Cup qualifier at Kingston’s National Stadium.
As a regular goal-scoring machine for the buoyant Boyz, he surpassed Paul Young’s record of 28 strikes by grabbing a brace against hosts Antigua & Barbuda in the 3-1 Caribbean Championship win to reach 30 goals in November 2010.
As Jamaica’s all-time leader scorer, he went on to reach a grand total of 35 goals – his last being the equaliser during the shock 2-1 defeat to hosts Guatemala in the World Cup qualifier in 2012 – from 75 appearances, which included three CONCACAF Gold Cup competitions.
After three season with Harbour View Shelton joined Swedish side Helsingborgs IF for £100,000 in August 2006, where he scored nine times in 19 Swedish Allsvenskan games, but appearances were limited due to a spate of injuries.
Shelton finally made it to England, putting the disappointment of being denied a work permit to sign for then Championship club Burnley in August 2005 by linking up with Premiership outfit Sheffield United in 2007. But he struggled for goals during his 25 matches with the side that got relegated from the top flight.
He was sold to Norwegian top tier team Vålerenga for £1m in July 2008, where he spent three seasons competing in the Tippeligaen with 17 goals from 58 appearances.
Following a loan spell with Danish Supeliga side Aalborg BK, which saw him score just once in 10 games, Shelton moved to Turkey with Karabükspor in August 2011 where he bagged 10 goals in 47 appearances over two seasons.
FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod was his next port of call, but during his inaugural season (2013-14) the team were relegated from the Russian top flight. He spent a further season with them, grabbing only two goals from 23 matches, and left in 2015 just before the team went bankrupt.
Following an unsuccessful trial in the US with MLS outfit Colorado Rapids, Shelton spent two seasons on the sidelines because of a knee injury before returning to Harbour View in early 2017.
He headed home on his debut, despite playing only the first 45 minutes due to lack of fitness, in their 2-1 Red Stripe Premier League success over Tivoli Gardens FC 2-1 at National Stadium.
The Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) has expressed its deepest condolences to the family and the Harbour View Football Club of former national player Shelton.
The association released a statement that read: “We pray for his family at this time as losing a loved one is never easy. Rest in perpetual peace Luton. You will be missed.”
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