Sport

Brian Brown bang on target with Albania move

…Boyz striker describes debut hat-trick for top flight Partizani 'a special moment'

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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If ever there was truly a dream start to a club career, this is it.

Reggae Boyz frontman Brian Brown amazingly came off the bench in the second half of the Albanian Supercup to score a late hat-trick (88th, 94th, 99th minutes) to give his new club FK Partizani Tirana a 4-2 extra-time win over FK Kukesi at the Elbasan Arena on Saturday.

More sensationally, it was Brown's first game for the club he had joined only weeks prior, rescuing his team that was trailing 1-2 when he entered the pitch.

To win a trophy and to be the match winner in one's first game at a new job is the stuff dreams are made of.

By his heroics, Brown may have redefined the terms of dream debuts, even solely from a Jamaican perspective.

Brown, 26, is still basking in the glory of his European unveiling.

“When you go to a new a club and going into your first game, everybody wants to see you perform and would like to see you score on your debut… so for me, coming off the bench and scoring three goals was a special moment for me.

“The staff, I am sure, would have been happy to know that they have brought in a player, and right away he is helping the team to win games and to lift cups,” the former Reno 1868 forward told the Jamaica Observer from his home in the Albania capital of Tirana yesterday.

“It's funny, because that was my first hat-trick outside of Jamaica, and for me to do that, words cannot express how I feel, but one thing for sure is that the moment will stay with me forever,” Brown added.

The Albanian Supercup is a preseason match between the Albanian Super League champions (Partizani) and the knockout Albania Cup winners (Kukesi).

The striker, who hails from Sandy Bay, Hanover, on Jamaica's north-western tip, says he now wants to train his focus on the upcoming season and to help his club retain its Super League title.

“My immediate goal is to just work hard and get into the starting team and to contribute to the team with goals and assists, and to just enjoy my time here with my teammates… the goal is to just help the team win the championship again, and hopefully we get to play in the Champions League qualifiers next year,” he said.

The Albanian Super League, which is contested by 10 clubs, runs from August to May.

Playing professionally in one of Europe's poorest nations may not be an appealing prospect for players following the dream, but Brown's decision to move from the USA's second division was seemingly made on clearly thought-out foundations.

“First of all, they (Partizani) are the champions of the Albanian Super League and the best team in the country right now. The second thing is this club is in Europe and playing in the top league in the country, and that made the situation much easier to arrive at my decision.

“Once you are in Europe so you will be playing against players of a high level, and once you are in Europe, you never know who will see you and you could be in another country playing in another league and that's why it's important to perform at your best at all times,” Brown reasoned.

He said his decision was also hastened by the prospect of playing European Champions League football.

“That [playing Champions League] was also one of the reasons that made the decision easy for me, because being here playing for the championship club means there is the opportunity to play in the Champions League qualifiers and even in the Champions League, and that means a lot for me coming out of Jamaica… we are looking forward to it for sure next year, all we have to do is win the league this season,” said Brown, the former Montego Bay United man.

While he admitted to slowly adapting to some aspects of life in Albania, Brown said most things are already falling into place to make his transition smoother.

“So far, most things are going good and I am just taking it step by step and day by day… right now I am just trying to get used to my teammates, the coaching staff, the food and the culture,” he noted.

“I signed a two-year deal with the club through to 2021.it's just for me to continue scoring and try to help the team in any way possible, so the focus right now is try to get better each day in training,” Brown said.

The former Harbour View man said his move to Europe speaks to the appeal of Jamaican talent to clubs outside of the USA league system.

“I think it is important for players to try and get out of Jamaica by any means necessary, and when we do the main country for us is the US… we have the talent and the quality and I have always believed that more of us can play outside of the US, and can do well in other parts of the world, as long as we have the right mindset.

“The JFF and the national coaches want to see Jamaican players in leagues across the world, whether in Turkey, Finland, Albania, wherever… we saw recently Shamar Nicholson making a good move to Belgium, and Ricardo Morris moving to Finland, so it's not just about moving to the USA, but other countries in Europe… there is quality in Jamaica and that quality allows us to play outside of Jamaica and the US,” Brown stated.

The striker, who also had professional stints in the USA with Philadelphia Union, Indy Eleven and Charlotte Independence, said he got disillusioned with his lack of mobility at USL's Reno 1868, which is a sister club to US Major League outfit San Jose Earthquakes.

“I did two good seasons with Reno and I was expected to move up to San Jose Earthquakes, which is the parent team for Reno, but I didn't get that chance, but what could I do? I could only do what I can control, so the club in Albania needed a striker and I took the opportunity as I needed a new challenge and to prove to myself that I can score goals wherever I go,” shared Brown.

The frontman, who was part of Jamaica's squad at the Concacaf Gold Cup, says he is looking forward to increased consideration with the Boyz in the future.

“Right now I don't think my move to Albania would have been possible at this time without me being a part of the national team and playing in the Gold Cup, and that's what made the move easier.

“I want to be a part of the Jamaican squad for friendly games, Nations League games and World Cup qualifiers, and I am always looking for a call-up to be in the camp. All I can do is to work hard at my club and score goals and the rest would be up to the national coach to call me, and I am always willing and ready to play,” Brown ended.


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