ON a night when all the Reggae Boyz defenders stepped up their game to admirable levels, including captain and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, Watford's centre back Nyron 'Nuggsy' Nosworthy is the Jamaica Observer's star player.
The 32-year-old Brixton-born player -- who began his career as a trainee at Gillingham, where he is reported to have ran to training as part of his 'warm-up' exercises, despite living a considerable distance away -- had the unenviable task to shutting out Manchester United's striker, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, and Oribe Peralta of Santos Laguna.
Chicharito has one of the best goals per games ratio among modern players, scoring 24 in 33 games prior to Wednesday's CONCACAF World Cup Final Round Qualifier at the Estadio Azteca, while Peralta is one of the top strikers in Mexico, and the man famous for scoring both goals in his team's 2-1 victory over Brazil in the gold medal match at the London Olympics last summer.
Nuggsy and his central defensive partner and former clubmate Adrian Mariappa delivered big time, limiting the much-vaunted Mexico pair to few chances at Ricketts' goal.
Nuggsy, who has had English Premier League experience at Sunderland, first as a right wing back, then to central defence -- where he is reported to have said that the move helped his concentration and organisational skills -- needed all the experience gained over the years to ward off the marauding Mexicans, as Jamaica kept a clean sheet.
From the stands inside the gigantic Azteca, the site of two World Cup Finals (1970 and 1986), one could see Nuggsy and Mariappa in constant dialogue and gesticulation among themselves and teammates.
The organisational execution was superb, for the most part, and when he had to throw himself to block, he was alert, he was ready, and he was brave. The effort and commitment, it seems, became infectious, as his teammates joined in for the common goal of earning a satisfactory result.
"The game for us on a whole was a good game," Nuggsy told the Jamaica Observer at game's end. "We were fully concentrated and I think knowing who we were playing against made it that much better for us, because our concentration levels for the whole team from the front to the back was very good. So for us it was to make sure we keep them (forwards) pushed away from us for the first 15 to 20 minutes and see how it got on," he added.
Chicharito is famous for being a highly intelligent striker, who has an uncanny knack of finding spaces in-between and behind defenders, running off their shoulders and being calm and deadly inside the penalty box.
Well, on Wednesday he was restricted to just two shots, both blocked by a highly alert Ricketts, while Peralta was even less effective, forcing Ricketts into one save from a pile drive from an acute angle.
So for his organisational skills, his bravery, his tackling ability, his reading of the game, and his recovery rate, Nyron 'Nuggsy' Nosworthy, who won the 2006-7 Player of the Year Award for Sunderland is the Observer's Star Player of the Game.
-- Ian Burnett