THERE aren’t many players who played 19 games on loan, 12 years ago, and are still talked about at Bloomfield Road.
When Steve McMahon signed a totally unknown and inexperienced defender called Danny Shittu in 2001, not even an eyebrow was raised by Pool’s supporters.
Three months later and they were carrying the giant off the field on their shoulders.
Shittu was never the most cultured, talented or reliable defender in the world - but he gave everything he had.
McMahon threw him straight in for his debut against Lincoln at Bloomfield Road, a game which saw his first ever senior appearance and goal.
And Shittu, who’ll return to face Pool tomorrow with his current club Millwall, says he will never forget it.
“It was such a long time ago, but I can remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “I had to go all the way up to Blackpool, having spent all my life in London.
“I went up there and learnt to play under Steve McMahon. A lot has happened since then, but it feels like yesterday.”
Shittu’s now 32 and has enjoyed a successful career since, but it was Blackpool who he credits with helping him along the way.
He played 19 games for the Seasiders, a spell which ended in heartbreak after his loan deal ran our days before Pool’s 4-2 play-off final win against Leyton Orient.
Shittu had scored a vital goal away at Darlington to send Pool into the play-offs, before starring in both wins against Hartlepool which set-up the final tie.
He added: “I remember being so nervous going up there away from my friends and family, none of them could come up with me.
“I got on the train and was away from everything I was used to.
“Even Blackpool being a Seaside town and things, it was just a totally new experience for me.I don’t think I’d been further than Watford before that.
“I had to adjust to living up there on my own, and also playing in front of thousands of people.
“It was brilliant to go up there and play in big league games, it was such a big experience for me.
“I remember I stayed in a hotel.
“Everyone else in the place I stayed was over 50.
“All I did after training was to play the arcades and the slot machines. Playing for Blackpool and in front of their fans, it went really well for me up there. I started a bit slow, but I ended with having such a great experience up there.”
After leaving Blackpool, he enjoyed spells at Charlton, QPR, Bolton, Watford and Millwall.
He’s been back to Bloomfield Road many times since his loan spell, and has seen huge changes. It’s changed just a little bit since I was there,” he joked. Last time I played up there it was for Watford, the stadium is totally different, it’s changed a lot.”
His Millwall since arrive on the Fylde coast having won only one of their previous seven games. But Shittu is convinced things will turn around.
“We are disappointed about the way things have been going in the last couple of games, especially at home,” he said. “The manager is still working hard with us to get things right.
“We know we can do it, we’ve done it before, so it’s just about us getting things right.”