With Christmas just around the corner, living rooms worldwide will play host to a showing of the Disney classic Cool Runnings. If the Jamaica national FA had their way, Disney could certainly be contemplating a soccer sequel.
Jamaica is a country renowned for its success in athletics rather than soccer. A solitary World Cup appearance, not to mention last year’s impressive run to the Gold Cup final, are among the Reggae-Boyz’ greatest achievements. However with the World Cup well over a year and a half away, Jamaica are already out of the qualification race having failed to make it to the final round of the CONCACAF group phase.
However, the Jamaican’s could have boasted one of world football’s fastest team’s only for potential recruits to commit to other nations. Nevertheless, the Caribbean island could still field a very impressive team of ‘Granny Rule’ players from the United Kingdom. Although they would still be far from world beaters, many countries would happily avail of some of the Jamaican eligible talent.
To start off a little low key, Chelsea goalkeeper Jamal Blackman qualifies. He famously sat on the bench for Chelsea’s Champions League final win in 2012. Another Chelsea player Michael Hector (on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt) is already a full Jamaican international. Leicester’s Wes Morgan is a key player for Jamaica and he could eventually play internationally with club mate Danny Simpson. Unfortunately fellow 2016 PFA team of the year selection Danny Rose chose England but was also eligible.
English born wingers Nathan Redmond and Scott Sinclair could still throw their lot in with their ancestral country but Kingston born Raheem Sterling did the opposite and like Rose opted with England. Two other exciting Jamaican born prospects Leon Bailey (K.R.C Genk) and Daniel Johnson (Preston North End) surprisingly remain uncapped despite shining domestically. Newcastle’s Rolando Aarons who was also born in Kingston has represented England at youth level.
Up front Dwight Gayle and Troy Deeney have the firepower that could be the envy many national teams.
In addition to these players, Jason Puncheon, Frazier Campbell (both Crystal Palace) and Reece Oxford (West Ham United) all qualify. Other current Jamaican internationals of note include former Leeds captain Rodolph Austin, Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Reading’s Gareth McCleary who has featured in the Premier League.
Although the assembly of this team is unlikely, the pace on offer is terrifying. However there is still hope for Jamaica.
As previously mentioned, Leon Bailey is still uncapped and has been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United in recent months. He is one of the highest rated young players in Belgium and is unlikely declare for another country. On the other hand, Usain Bolt’s extremely unusual pipe dream of playing for Manchester United and Jamaica could also result in a Cool Runnings sequel that will be shown for Christmases to come.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena