Rocket man Nicholson shooting for the stars

…Boyz striker using Slovenia experience to inspire youth in Trench Town heartland

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Sunday, June 09, 2019

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States — Shamar Nicholson prefers to let his boots do the talking.

And when those mighty feet of his have a point to make, it is usually exquisite and brutish in one mix.

In a show of his deadly sting as a striker, the former Boys' Town star was on target from 22 yards with his prepossessing goal that gave the Reggae Boyz 1-0 win over the USA in a friendly international at Audi Field in Washington, DC, on Wednesday night.

But while many may have been awestruck by the sheer majesty of the goal, this is the kind of magic Nicholson conjures up on a regular basis on the job for Slovenian topflight club, NK Domzale.

But Wednesday night's master class was special because it was his first for Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz.

Nicholson, 22, was at a loss for words when asked to reflect on his 60th-minute wonder strike.

“I don't even know how to describe how I am feeling… I just can't find the words.

“What I know for sure was that from I received that ball I knew I was going to go for goal…firstly I thought about going using my left foot, but I faked that and then put it on the right and just went for it,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“But these are the types of goals I have been scoring for Domzale over the years,” Nicholson added.

The forward has scored 18 goals for the Slovenian club from 44 appearances since joining in 2017.

With his first goal for the Boyz out of the way, Nicholson is now looking to keep going with the Concacaf Gold Cup the next big assignment for his nation.

Jamaica face Honduras in the feature of a double-header inside the National Stadium on June 17. El Salvador and Curacao will meet in the other Group C match-up.

“As you know, we were in the last two Gold Cup finals, so the expectation is going to be high… I just want to be there to do my best and to help the team in any situation.

“This is a great group of players and when you look around you see so much talent and I like to be part of strong squads like these because that helps you to me more competitive,” he said.

Nicholson, who attended Trench Town, High School situated in one of Kingston's gritty inner-city communities, says he would relish the opportunity to get a chance to perform for the Jamaica home crowd for the first time.

“I never played in front of my home crowd before, but I have gone there as a spectator, so I know how it feels to be in the stands cheering on the Boyz, and now I may have the chance to play in front of the people and my family, and that would be really good,” he noted.

Nicholson said his game has made quantum leaps since he joined Domzale from his boyhood club Boys' Town, but admits it's a work in progress.

“I play regularly and I am always in the starting 11, but when it comes to my overall performance I am not fully satisfied, but I am working every day to make it better… when I just got there my aim was to improve my off the ball movement, because from that I scored a lot of goals…but, generally, I have learnt a lot and I am a better player,” he reasoned.

The football in the former Yugoslavian state, Nicholson argues, is a mix of the popular approaches in Europe.

“In Slovenia, the football is more tactical, but clubs mix it up as some play it long, while others like to keep the ball, and at my club we like to keep the ball… my club has done well because they have qualified for the Europa play-offs as they finished third in the league,” notes the former Jamaica youth player.

Even though Domzale has been “a great place” to play, Nicholson's ambition for greener pastures drives him on.

“Right now I am just putting in the work and maybe before long I could be playing in one of the top leagues in Europe,” he asserts.

Life in Slovenia was not a bed of roses at the start for the bustling centre forward, but over time he adapted to the climate and culture.

“I have come to find it a good place to play football, the fans are fantastic and the environment in general is very good… the food is no problem, it's beef and chicken and these things that we are used to in Jamaica.

“But when I just got there it was so cold that I ended up doing a small operation on my foot, and it was really tough handling the cold, but now I am used to it,” he said smiling.

Nicholson has been using his life-changing experiences playing as a professional to inspire the youth in his community of Trench Town.

“I never got the inspiration from anyone from my community to share with me what it is like to play professionally in Europe, so whenever I come back to my community I would share my experiences with the players from my local club Boys Town, and the kids who dream of one day becoming professional players themselves,” he expressed.

But the son of Rema has been giving back to the community in other ways.

“In December last year I kept a treat for the kids, but what I really want to do is start a foundation… the kids came out and they got food and rides, and for the older folks we had a football competition as part of the whole experience,” he said.


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