Andre Gray among Jamaica’s English contingent aiming to go one better than Three Lions did at the Euros… and taste international glory with Reggae Boyz at the Gold Cup
- Andre Gray is one of a contingent of English-born players representing Jamaica
- Jamaica take on hosts USA on Sunday in the quarter-final of the Gold Cup
- Bobby Decordova-Reid and Adrian Mariappa among the other players involved
Watford’s Andre Gray is among a group of English-born players bidding to go one step further than Gareth Southgate’s men at Euro 2020 and taste international glory this summer by winning the Gold Cup with Jamaica.
The Reggae Boyz face tournament hosts USA in Sunday evening’s quarter-final in Arlington, Texas with eight Anglos in their squad.
Bobby Decordova-Reid and Michael Hector (both Fulham), Adrian Mariappa and Liam Moore (both Reading), Dillon Barnes (QPR), Amari’i Bell (Luton) and Gray all grew up in England while Kingston-born Daniel Johnson moved as a youngster and now plays for Preston.
Watford’s Andre Gray is one of a group of English-born players who are representing Jamaica
Gray made his international debut in March but feared he would miss out on the Gold Cup, the North and Central American equivalent of the Euros – because he needed a Jamaican passport for competitive games and his hadn’t arrived by the time the squad was announced at the start of July.
‘I’d been going through the process for around two years but it was made more complicated because my grandfather had died,’ reveals Gray.
‘When the squad was announced, my passport hadn’t arrived so I couldn’t be picked. It was so frustrating, an absolute nightmare. I’d resigned myself to missing out and was ready to go back to pre-season training with Watford.
‘Even though the passport was actually confirmed the day after, I thought it was too late. But then the following week Jamaica got an injury (Javon East) and I got called up. The rest of the squad were already in Florida so I had to fly solo to join them, but it wasn’t the worst trip of my life!
‘It is a fantastic group. We’ve got players based in the MLS and Jamaica but anyone who thinks there is a drop in quality between those players and the European ones have got it completely wrong. There is a lot of quality from everywhere.’
Bobby Decordova-Reid is also representing Jamaica, who are in the Gold Cup semi-finals
Temperatures in Dallas where Jamaica are preparing for their big knockout tie have reached 40 degrees centigrade (104 F). It’s meant training takes place at eight o’clock in the morning before it gets too hot and there is relief their match with USA kicks off at 9.30 in the evening.
The Reggae Boys team became universally popular at the 1998 World Cup when players like Robbie Earle were in the team that faced England.
The stand-out player in the current team is Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey who is currently being linked with a move to Aston Villa. Captain Damion Lowe plays his club football in Egypt and has also attracted interest from British clubs while Decordova-Reid scored seven Premier League goals for Fulham last season.
He also netted in Jamaica’s opening game of the Gold Cup against Suriname before testing positive for Covid but has now rejoined the group and is eligible to face USA.
The Jamaica players were training when England lost their penalty shoot-out to Italy at the Euro 2020 final.
Adrian Mariappa is also involved and will hope to help Jamaica get the better of the USA
They have been beaten four times by USA in the Gold Cup but the Americans are without star names like Christian Pulisic for this occasion.
‘We’ve come here to win this cup,’ says Gray. ‘We aren’t scared of anyone. You can’t look at what happened in the past between us and the USA, things are there to be changed.
‘We had a great following for our games in Florida. I expect the crowd in Texas will be rooting for USA but that won’t put us off.
‘We have quality in our team. Nothing more needs to be said about Leon. I am sure one day he will come to England and his name will be up in lights.
‘My future is down to Watford. If they want me to stay, I am going to fight for my place in the Premier League. I believe I am good enough. But I am not thinking about club football. I am focussed on Jamaica and trying to win.’
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