Sport

Reggae boy signs long-term contract with Minnesota

Daley eyes coaching job down the road

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Thursday, December 19, 2013    

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OMAR Daley's parting of ways with Scottish giant Motherwell, earlier this year may seem on the surface a dropped chance by the Jamaican midfielder to consolidate his position in the top flight.

And when he decided to accept a loan offer from the fledgling North American Soccer League (NASL) outfit Minnesota United, it was indeed a comparative step down.

But having had a successful three-month loan spell in the US second-tier with Minnesota, Daley is on the fringe of stepping up his game with the Loons on a more permanent basis.

With his new long-term deal, the fleet-footed Jamaican winger is not only expected to play an integral part in the on-field business, but the club has asked him to play a leadership role as its ambassador.

And while there were a couple of "promising offers" on the table, the 32-year-old had already fallen in love with the club. So it was not difficult for owner Bill McGuire and coach Manny Lagos to convince the Jamaican to stay on for the long haul.

"Originally when I went there, it was a three-month loan, but the club has received an injection of funds and they have asked me to stay on a more long-term basis," Daley told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

"Sometimes in football is not where you think you should be, it's where you are at that moment in time that's important, and if it's good for me and the family and the club, then that makes it the right place and time.

"The offer was good plus the club wants me to play a more integral part in their development and be an ambassador for the club as well. So when I weighed all of those things, I thought it was a good deal and I took it," said the fomer Glenmuir High standout.

Daley said he also became comfortable at the North American club, for not only the opportunity it offers him as a player and the financial benefits, but he wanted the ideal setting to keep him close to his family in Jamaica.

"I got an offer in Thailand, but I wanted something closer to my family. A couple of people in England wanted to see me to assess my level of fitness, but I opted to stay with Minnesota because they have been good to me and it allows [me] to be close to Jamaica at this time," said the former Bradford City man.

Daley refused to discuss details of the new arrangement, offering only "that it's a good package".

In his last game for Minnesota last season, Daley scored a delighted hat-trick, which he thinks "put the icing on the cake" in the club's decision to hold on to him.

Daley, a member of Jamaica's team to the 2001 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Argentina, said parallel to his ambassadorial and on-field duties, he will be pursuing a coaching course as he looks to lay the foundation for a life after the playing side of the game.

"I will be starting a coaching course which I will do while I am playing, and that's one of the reasons why the USA was my first choice as I will be doing my course in Minnesota," he said.

Minnesota United, which was founded in 2010, marks the second US club that Daley has represented, having paraded his stuff for Charleston Battery from 2006-2007, following his loan spell at Preston North End.

Daley, a former Reading player, said he has been inspired by his fellow Jamaican international Ricardo "Bibi" Gardner and the work he has been doing with the grass-roots through the Samsung Cup, an all-island tournament for preparatory and primary schools.

"I want to give back to football in Jamaica because it has given me so much. Look at what Ricardo Gardner is doing with the Samsung Cup kids and it looks good and is something that has inspired me," said the former Portmore United star.

As an explosive midfielder or winger, Daley has made some 72 appearances with seven goals to his name for the senior Reggae Boyz. He last represented Jamaica in a two-game friendly series against Trinidad and Tobago in November.

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