When we think of Jamaica certain things come to mind. Most of us might think of the legendary Bob Marley. Some will conjure up images of beautiful Caribbean beaches or even some certain green medicine for our older readers.
One thing that will never be associated with the country of Jamaica is the beautiful game of football. We will always think of Usain Bolt or oddly enough even bob-sleighing but never football when thinking about Jamaican sport.
They aren’t a nation known for their football pedigree.
Jamaica currently sit 48th in the FIFA rankings but we know by now to take those rankings with a giant pinch of salt.
They have only ever appeared in one World Cup finals. That was back in World Cup 1998 in France. Jamaica came 3rd in Group H finishing behind Argentina and Croatia. They did pick up a win in their final game of the tournament beating Japan 2-1.
They’ve won six Caribbean Cups in their history. Along with two runner up medals in the CONCACAF Championship.
Like many countries with a small population the talent pool to pick from isn’t great.
A lot of the squad is made up of homegrown players.
Their most capped player is Ian Goodison with 128 caps. Goodison is most notable for playing with Tranmere Rovers. Their top scorer is Luton Shelton with 35 goals who had a year spell with Sheffield United.
Known names like Bayern Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey and Preston North End’s Daniel Johnson currently play for the national football team.
However, some of their players are born in other countries with Jamaican parents or grandparents.
This is a practice that the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) are looking to implement strongly into their recruitment process going forward.
It is believed that the JFF have targeted several English players as possible targets that qualify to play for the Caribbean nation. An estimated 124 players across the top four tiers of English football have either Jamaican parents or grandparents.
Football agent Devon Porter is planning to contact a few high profiled English players. It’s hoped they can join the national team ahead of their upcoming World Cup qualifiers for Qatar 2022.
The list of players is believed to include Mason Greenwood, Kalvin Phillips, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mason Holgate. All of whom have at least one Jamaican parent. These are more of the higher profile names believed to be approached soon by the JFF.
You would imagine some are very unlikely to happen.
Mason Greenwood is one of the most exciting teenagers in the Premier League. It will be very unlikely that he won’t represent England at international level. With England manager Gareth Southgate assuring the four lads mentioned that they will play for England.
You could imagine some of them will only be played a handful of times to end the pursuit of other national teams.
It Worked In The Past
It is a system that worked for Jamaica in the past. As they had a lot of English born players in their squad for the 1998 World Cup qualifications and finals.
While Southgate will be doing his best to stomp out this ambitious recruitment drive. It certainly is a good signal of intent from the JFF who want to become a bigger name of the international stage since playing their first competitive game way back in 1925.
While you would imagine the temptation of playing for England will be to much for a lot of these young players. It still might not be impossible for some of them.
Like I said I would be shocked if Mason Greenwood represents Jamaica.
But someone like Mason Holgate could realistically see it as an opportunity to play regular international football. Especially if Jamaica bring in young talented players from lower tier Premier League clubs and the Championship.
Just look at someone as talented as Wilfred Zaha. An excellent English born player who didn’t fancy sitting on the bench for England. Zaha now proudly represents the Ivory Coast at international level.
While it is a different situation and the Ivory Coast are bigger than Jamaica on the football scale. It is still an example of a promising English player preferring to play regular football at international level.
This story is certainly a case of wait and see. But you must at least admire the ambition of Jamaica and their football federation.
While I would be shocked to see huge names put on the famous yellow jersey of the Caribbean nation.
If they can lure a few over they could be ones to watch and could add on to their single World Cup appearance.