It was on 20 June, 4 days earlier than Jamaica opened their Gold Cup marketing campaign with a draw in opposition to hosts United States, that Demarai Grey grew to become the most recent Premier League participant to commit himself to the Reggae Boyz trigger.
Twenty-five years after they referred to as on English-born gamers with Jamaican heritage within the type of Robbie Earle, Frank Sinclair and others to achieve the World Cup finals for the primary – and thus far solely – time, Grey grew to become the most recent modern-day participant to set his sights on serving to the nation of his household.
Grey, 27, was born in Birmingham and performed for England at all ages group stage from Below-18 to Below-21s, a stage at which the winger scored eight instances from 26 appearances.
He even got here near a senior cap, he was on the bench for a pleasant in opposition to Switzerland in 2018 however by no means acquired on.
Three years later, Grey was listed as one of many gamers making an attempt to safe a Jamaican passport to attempt to assist in an try to achieve final yr’s World Cup in Qatar.
That course of didn’t undergo rapidly sufficient for that plan to achieve fruition however when his passport was lastly accredited final month, it allowed him to affix a rising listing of English-based gamers hoping to assist Jamaica to only a second Gold Cup remaining.
They face their largest check to this point once they tackle event favourites Mexico at 03:00 BST on Thursday within the semi-final.
“I’ve at all times been pleased with my Jamaican heritage and becoming a member of the nationwide crew is a dream come true,” mentioned Grey.
“With renewed ambition and thrilling plans within the crew’s pipeline, it looks like the right time to take this subsequent step.”
Antonio leads a rising English affect
Having completed second in a gaggle topped by the USA, Grey was one in every of seven gamers within the Jamaica beginning line-up through the quarter-final victory in opposition to Guatemala that play within the English league, with six extra in Heimir Hallgrimsson’s 23-man squad.
Most notable amongst them is West Ham striker Michail Antonio.
Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey and Fulham’s Bobby Decordova-Reid are additionally there, as is Swansea’s Joel Latibeaudiere, who skippered the England Below-17 World Cup facet containing his then Manchester Metropolis team-mate Phil Foden to victory in India in 2017. Luton’s Amari’I Bell scored the quarter-final winner.
In earlier years, gamers together with Ivan Toney, Max Aarons, Nathan Ferguson and Rico Henry have have been steered as potential call-ups.
“I’ve at all times mentioned it’s not one of the best gamers, it’s the proper gamers,” mentioned skipper Andre Blake, who has spent all his senior membership profession in Main League Soccer with Philadelphia Union.
“Generally I overlook that this crew may be very new. A superb crew takes time to construct and that is at its very early phases.”
Mexico the largest check
Jamaica’s possibilities of victory in opposition to Mexico usually are not helped by the information ‘El Tri’ named a powerful squad. In distinction, holders United States, who play Panama within the different semi-final and wanted a late purpose to attract their opening group match in opposition to Jamaica, have left most of their senior European-based gamers out.
Jamaica have needed to journey additional to get to Las Vegas than Mexico and have a day much less to organize.
However whereas the primary focus of their recruitment drive is on reaching the 2026 World Cup in North America, they method this check with confidence.
“We all know now we have a superb squad with good gamers that may do good issues,” mentioned Hallgrimsson, who took his native Iceland to the World Cup in 2018 and was named Jamaica coach final yr.
“This can be a crew within the making.
“We’re desirous about 2026 however it will be good to have success now. We need to win this event.”