King abdicates - Controversial striker quits Reggae Boyz

... but Capt Burrell maintains mission continues apace

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Monday, November 05, 2012

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YESTERDAY'S resignation of the enigmatic striker Marlon King from international football was indeed a bombshell, but the mission to lure old and new players to the Reggae Boyz cause continues apace.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, who is leading a three-man team to the United Kingdom to sway talent for Jamaica's CONCACAF final round, said it's unfortunate King decided to quit at this time.

"It's unfortunate that things have ended the way they have, but I was aware that his decision would hinge on what came out of discussions with his family. He told me that the matter of Jamaica has caused him so much pain... he met with his family and it was decided that this was the best course of action and we have to respect that," Burrell said from England yesterday.

The football executive thanked the Birmingham City striker for his contribution to the nation's football, having scored 12 goals from 21 appearances since making his debut in 2004.

"Marlon has contributed greatly to the development of Jamaica's football and we thank and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

"We (JFF team in England) were looking forward to have a fulsome discussion with Marlon to iron out any wrinkle there might have been. But that's football where you will always have high and low moments," said Burrell, a known personal fan of King.

King's resignation was also confirmed by the player's agent Tony Finnigan in an email exchange yesterday.

"It is with the deepest regret that I, Marlon King, have today decided to retire myself from international football. I have always given my all to the Jamaican football team and have some very fond memories of my achievements within the squad," King said in a widely circulated statement yesterday.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Captain Burrel and Carl Brown for their outstanding support during my time with the JFF. They will always have my complete respect. I would also like to thank the Jamaican public and my fans for their support and wish the squad the very best in achieving World Cup qualification," the statement continued.

The 32-year-old King has not participated in any of Jamaica's CONCACAF semi-final round matches after being shown the cold shoulder by the Theodore Whitmore-led technical team since serving a two-match ban for breaching "curfew rules" on a friendly assignment in Panama in May.

Whitmore had deemed King as "disruptive" and would never have found favour with the coaching team until the England-born striker was prepared to repent of his ways.

No stranger to trouble within the ranks of Jamaica's football and his native England, King was also banned by the Crenston Boxhill-led federation for another curfew-related incident in a two-match tour of England in 2006.

On the return of Burrell to the helm of the JFF in 2007, King was immediately reinstated to the team.

In December 2008, King was arrested on suspicion of punching a 20-year-old female university student in the face in a Soho bar, causing a broken nose and split lip for which she was treated in hospital. In a highly-publicised case, he was later convicted of sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and placed on the sex offender register for seven years.

Meanwhile, Burrell said the King surprise has not put a damper on the recruitment drive.

"But our mission here continues as we aim to honour our itinerary to meet with players and their agents. Today (yesterday), we met with Reading's Jobi McAnuff and Gareth McLeary and they are both excited to wear the black, green and gold of Jamaica. We also met with David Hoillett of Queen's Park Rangers, who has expressed a desire, but told us that he needs a little more time to make a final decision," Burrell noted.

The long-serving football boss said he and his touring team of head coach Whitmore and assistant Alfredo Montesso also made contact with another target player.

"On Saturday, we watched Nathan Dyer, who came on as sub in Swansea's match against Chelsea. We did not speak to the player, but we have scheduled a face-to-face with him and his agent. But we met his parents, who are both Jamaicans, and they are excited. But we understand that it's a decision the player himself has to make," the CONCACAF executive committee member told the Jamaica Observer by telephone.

Burrell, who is also scheduled to meet other out-of-favour Boyz on the 12-day trip, said unless players can demonstrate in convincing ways that the have a genuine desire to wear the Jamaican colours, they need not apply.

"As we have said before, these players have to express full interest and desire that they want to play before we move to the next step," he noted.

Meetings are also scheduled with Huddersfield's 29-year-old Jermaine Beckford; Reading's 23-year-old defender Shaun Cummings; Derby County's striker Theo Robinson (23); Newcastle rightback Danny Simpson (25), and his teammate defender James Perch (27).

A push is also expected to be made for Jamaican-born 17-year-old Liverpool winger, Raheem Sterling, who it is reported is anxious to meet the Burrell team.

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