'Hungry for more!'
Wigan Athletic defender Curtis Tilt ready to give all for BoyzSunday, December 05, 2021
BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Curtis Tilt is part of the latest generation of English-born players chasing the Reggae Boyz World Cup dream.
But the central defender is waiting the chance to truly play his part in helping Jamaica to their second senior men's World Cup qualification — hoping to repeat the success of France '98.
Based on the position of the Boyz in the ongoing Concacaf Octagonal for a spot in Qatar 2022, it would appear that the country needs all the help it can get.
After eight games, Jamaica are in sixth spot on a mere seven points, precariously outside the qualifying zone where the top-three finishers will automatically progress to Qatar 2022.
The fourth-place finisher has a chance to give Concacaf an additional spot from an intercontinental home-and-away play-off matches.
As it reads, Canada lead the race with 16 points, followed by the USA (15), Mexico (14), Panama (14), Costa Rica (nine), Jamaica (seven), El Salvador (six) and Honduras (three).
“I am a character that doesn't like losing and wear my heart on me sleeve, and I would do anything to see our country play in Qatar 2022,” Tilt told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.
“I've had a taste of playing international football and I am hungry for more and will keep fighting for a place to represent Jamaica once again. I know that competition for places [is intense] but it's a good thing, as pushing each other can only lead to success,” said the Rotherham defender.
With a small bite of the Boyz cherry still fresh on his lips, 30-year-old Tilt is salivating for more.
“Like every player, you can only work hard at club football and hope you catch the eye of selectors and the coach at international level,” Tilt noted.
The Wigan Athletic loanee had far from a perfect start to his Jamaica career, but is hopeful for brighter days ahead.
“I loved every minute representing our country for the times that I've been chosen but unfortunately, I got injured playing in Japan, which took quite a few weeks to get back fit. But now I'm hoping the chance of representing Jamaica might come soon as I'm fully fit and playing well at club level,” Tilt stated.
If given another shot, the lanky player will join a centre backline of quality specialists, including Damion Lowe (Al-Ittihad), Liam Moore (Reading), Adrian Mariappa (MacArthur FC of Australia), Michael Hector (Fulham), and Ethan Pinnock (Brentford).
The former Blackpool man says Jamaica's place in the World Cup qualifying standing is indicative of the sometimes unpredictable nature of sport in general and football in particular.
“Football is full of ups and downs and this is why it's the game we all love…it's never smooth sailing but with the squad of players and staff we have, there is no reason why we can't still qualify for the World Cup.
“We are all pushing each other to be the best we can be — on and off the field, and hopefully, this will start showing in the results,” Tilt asserted.
The 6ft 4in Tilt, who qualified to represent Jamaica through his grandparents, reasoned that the pressure Boyz Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore has come under for the below par performance of the team goes with the territory.
“Every team that I've played for, the coach has always had pressure, and I think that comes with the job…I can only speak for the [tours] that I have been on, [and what I have seen] is that the coach and his staff work tirelessly on and off the field to get us moving in the right direction,” said the Walsall-born player.
Recently, Tilt was awarded Goal of the Month for October in scoring for his League One outfit, Wigan against Burton Albion on October 30. Wigan won 2-0.
“It's a great achievement because as a defender you don't really get nominated for scoring goals, never mind winning goal of the month,” he shared.
The effort was sublime for its element of difficulty, but equally for its technical execution as Tilt used the outside of the left boot to greet a rising ball from 25 yards out when he came forward to aid the attack.
“I would like to think I'm good in both boxes — defensive and attacking — so each time I do get in the opposition box I am there to try and help the team score some goals,” he noted.
“First and foremost, I am a defender and I'm here to keep clean sheets, but from time to time, I like to step in and break the lines, helping the more forward-thinking players get on the ball higher up the pitch,” Tilt added.
Playing in League One of the British football infrastructure may seem a level or two low when measured against the quality and experience of Tilt. But for him, each stop on the football journey holds its own value and importance in the greater scheme of things.
“I would like to think I could play at a higher level… I'm always here pushing myself to get better.
“I don't really look too far ahead as I just work as hard as I possibly can in training… my life is football and I love the journey that I'm on, hoping every step is a forward one,” Tilt concluded.