The Foreign Legion: Eliphas Shivute

Thursday, May 18, 2017

In keeping with leagues across the continent, the Bosman ruling saw an influx of foreign players into the Scottish game as freedom of movement made it far easier for footballers to move clubs.

It also had the effect of opening clubs’ eyes to markets they would previously have overlooked, even those beyond the confines of the EU. Where once there may have been an isolated one or two players from Africa in the league, suddenly a steady stream of players from the continent began arriving in Scotland.

In time, the likes of Ange Oueifio, James Okoli and Said Chiba would follow but the first African player of note to join the Steelmen was Eliphas Shivute, who signed for Motherwell in 1997.

Having also attracted the attention of Dundee Utd and Hearts, the Namibian would go on trial with all three clubs before Alex McLeish used all his powers of persuasion to encourage Eliphas to join the ‘Well.

Arriving from Eleven Arrows, Shivute had at one time played lower league football in Germany.

There was great excitement amongst the Motherwell support who witnessed his debut with his raw talent clear for all to see.

When, in just his second start, he scored with a superb diving header in a 2-2 draw against Rangers at Ibrox and followed it up with another goal against Kilmarnock soon after, it genuinely felt like the club had unearthed a real hidden gem.

Unfortunately though, such highlights would come to be few and far between.

The Namibian internationalist would never be found wanting in terms of effort but the environment of Scottish football was not the most conducive for the style of football he played.

Shivute often seemed to be on a different wavelength from that of his fellow Motherwell players with his unpredictability sometimes proving as much a hindrance to his team-mates as it was a weapon against the opposition.

Eliphas soon found himself on the fringes of the side when Harri Kampman, who replaced McLeish, brought in a number of new players in the summer of 1998 and was released from his contract altogether by Billy Davies when the Finn’s successor was given licence to refresh the squad further only weeks after Kampman’s wholesale changes.

Although at just over a year, his Motherwell career was relatively brief and amounted to three goals in just twenty-six league and cup appearances, Shivute remains a fondly recalled figure for those who witnessed him in claret and amber.

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