When the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola comes to Jamaica on Saturday, October 5, it will spark several Jamaicans into memories of a glorious past.
The imminent arrival of the World Cup Trophy has created a buzz in the local footballing arenas and an effort should be made to pay tribute to some of the men who helped Jamaica accomplish in 1998 what was, at the time, an impossible dream.
Paul 'Tegat' Davis was for a long time Jamaica's leading all-time goal scorer with 33 goals for the national team. Tegat, as he was called, was also a member of the 1998 World Cup Qualifying campaign which saw Jamaica qualify for the first time in their history to a FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament.
Many Jamaicans remember Tegat's involvement during the campaign and although he was an unused sub on November 16, 1997, when Jamaica drew at home with Mexico to seal their berth in France, Tegat remains today one of the most respected names in Jamaican football history.
Paul Young was another of the names that resounded with footballing success. Young from an early age demonstrated great skill and understanding of the game and earned himself a scholarship to the University of Syracuse where he went on to be named in the All-American second team in 1992 after scoring 32 goals.
Upon his return to Jamaica he played at Hazard United (now Portmore United) before he joined Charleston Battery in the USISL. In 1996 Young was drafted in the inaugural MLS draft for the Columbus Crew, and was also a key player in the 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Gregory 'Skippy' Messam was another standout for Jamaica during the 1998 World Cup Qualifiers. Messam debuted in 1995 for the Reggae Boyz versus Canada and never looked back.
The outstanding left-wing-back was an exciting player going forward and strong in defence and he showcased this overseas with Richmond Kickers of the USA A-League as well as the Colorado Foxes.
Despite playing a major role in the early part of the qualifiers, Messam was left out of the final squad for France 1998, losing his place to Ricardo Gardner. He was, however, allowed to make the trip as he accompanied the team as tribute to his contribution.