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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ex-QPRs: Danny Shittu on Ian Holloway and Kevin Gallen

PA Sport

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By Tom Collomosse, PA Sport

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Watford defender Dan Shittu admits he owes Plymouth manager Ian Holloway a debt of gratitude but still hopes to dump his former boss out of the FA Cup when the sides meet in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

It was Holloway who gave Shittu his break in professional football by signing the 26-year-old for QPR on an initial loan deal in October 2001.

Holloway was a big influence on Shittu's career, which reached its pinnacle when the defender signed for the Barclays Premiership outfit in a £1.5million deal last summer.

And although Shittu will be determined to knock out Holloway's Coca-Cola Championship side at Home Park, he will never forget the 43-year-old's faith in him.

Shittu said: "If it had not been for Ian Holloway, I might not be in the Premiership now.

"Ollie took a gamble on me, which is something I really appreciate, because it is nice when someone gives you a chance.

"He gave me a platform to play, so I have a lot of respect for him, and I look forward to seeing him on Sunday.

"But the gratitude can go only so far. I would still love to beat his team on Sunday."

Holloway and Hornets chief Adrian Boothroyd are known for their unorthodox approaches to the game, with Holloway as well known for his idiosyncratic post-match reflections as Boothroyd is for his unusual motivational methods.

Shittu has experienced both men's ideas at first hand, and admits there are comparisons between the two.

On his time at QPR, he said: "We turned up to training, and Ollie told us all to get into a van.

"He took us to a ballet school, and we were all wondering what was going on.

"We found ourselves carrying ballerinas, and having our photos taken; it was all very comical. I don't remember being very good at it.

"I had to carry one ballerina on my shoulder, which was really embarrassing, especially when I saw the pictures - but at least I didn't drop her.

"We have done similar things at Watford. Once, instead of training, the manager decided to take us to the cinema, although I can't remember which film we saw.

"On another occasion, the whole squad, the manager, his staff and some of the directors were made to walk over hot coals.

"Aidy is very big on making people believe they can do anything, and we felt very confident and good about ourselves after walking over the coals.

"It was a good thing to do, and it didn't really hurt."

One of the key battles at Home Park is likely to be contested between Shittu and Argyle forward Kevin Gallen, who were team-mates at QPR from November 2001 until last August.

The pair have never played against each other and Shittu is keen to make his physical presence tell early in the game.

He said: "I haven't really spoken to Kevin since I left QPR, but I am definitely looking forward to kicking him.

"The only times we played against one another in the past were during training sessions, and I believe I used to get the better of him.

"I don't know what he would have to say about that, but I don't remember him getting past me too many times."

The Hornets welcome back on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster from injury, but will be without defender Jordan Stewart, who faces a month on the sidelines with a damaged calf. Sporting Life

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