New Reggae Boy Michail Antonio is “excited” to play for Jamaica, and has promised to bring the whole package to the team for its fight to gain a place at the 2022 World Cup.
Antonio, the 31-year-old West Ham United forward who plays in the English Premier League, is expected to make his debut for Jamaica in today’s first home game against Panama at the national stadium in Jamaica.
“I can bring experience, I can bring professionalism, I can bring goals and hold up play, I can connect with the midfield play, I can connect with the defence, I can connect with everyone, so that’s what I bring,” Antonio told the Jamaican media on Saturday.
The West Ham player currently sits atop the goal scorers chart in the early stages of the new English Premier League season with four goals and three assists from the first three matches.
And having been invited to the England Senior team before without gaining an appearance, Antonio is relishing the opportunity to play international football. This was made possible by virtue of his Jamaican parents. His mother is from rural St Andrew and his father is a St Catherine native.
“I’m excited, obviously, it’s been a long time, I think it’s been eight, nine months I’ve been trying to get out here to get some games, so it’s (an) opportunity tomorrow (today) so, obviously I don’t know if I’m playing or not, but hopefully, I can get a runout and get my opportunity,” he said.
And the occasion has not been lost on him either, though he’s never been in this situation before, during a FIFA window for international games.
“It’s exciting, it’s something new, it’s something I’ve never done before, coming out here during the season is a bit weird for me, obviously, I’m not used to it…normally these times I’s way back in the UK (United Kingdom) spending time with the family, but being in Jamaica mid-season (club)… I normally come here on holidays, so coming here to do work is completely different,” he explained.
Already he’s noticed the difference in football culture, as regards the routine and the more laid back characteristics here as opposed to back in England.
“I say the routine in England is a bit different compared to the Jamaican routine and obviously the weather. It is nice weather out here and the vibe, there is a good vibe out here, too.”
The strongly build Antonio would have played against a number of his new international teammates in the English League. He would have known them on the pitches of England, but he’s just now getting to know some of them personally and up close.
“I played against a lot of these players so I knew them before I got here, whereas I might not have known them personally, but I’ve known them on the field, so when you come here you feel like you know them anyway, so that is good.”
He continued: “I’ve met a couple of the boys now who are natives here and who were born here and they got good vibes too, so we are all here chilling, having jokes, it’s good.”
All that is left now is for the man who has high hopes to help Jamaica on this World Cup qualification journey to make his debut today and help his team put points on the board, preferably in a winning cause. “If I get called up I’ll be back. I’m going to play tomorrow and see how I do and we keep going and keep playing as long as I keep getting called up I’ll keep coming back,” he said.