Antonio has declared 'absolute desire' to play for Reggae Boyz — RickettsTuesday, March 02, 2021
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts says English Premier League player Michail Antonio has declared his “absolute desire” to play for the Reggae Boyz.
“We had a meeting with Michail Antonio and, of course, his agent. And he has expressed an absolute desire to represent us,” the JFF chief said during a virtual media conference yesterday.
The 30-year-old West Ham United forward, who was born in London, England, to Jamaican parents, has previously turned down overtures from the JFF in favour of international football with the Three Lions.
But though Antonio has been invited to England squads in the past, he is yet to make an appearance for them.
Ricketts confirmed Antonio is currently working on obtaining a Jamaican passport.
“He [Antonio] jokingly said that he has actually started the process of acquiring a [Jamaican] passport, and his wife is now inquiring if she will now be getting her Jamaican passport as well,” he said, noting that the JFF continues to explore the possibility of bringing in other high-quality overseas-bred players.
Antonio, who has a history of hamstring problem, has missed a number of matches for West Ham this season due to injury, but has scored seven times in 17 Premier League appearances.
He most recently netted a goal in the London-based club's 1-2 defeat away to league leaders Manchester City on Saturday.
Up to last week, West Ham boss David Moyes said he had not spoken to Antonio about the prospect of playing for Jamaica.
“I am still holding out he has a chance to get picked for England. I wouldn't say no to Jamaica, but I haven't spoken to him about it,” Moyes was quoted as saying.
“There would be [reservations] because of his injury record. He needs to keep himself in top form, so I couldn't honestly say the travel would be a help to him, but maybe for [Antonio] with the age he is in his career he probably hoped to be recognised by England, but England have a great quality of centre-forwards at their disposal,” the West Ham coach continued.
The Reggae Boyz have a critical schedule ahead of them, with the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup tournament set to begin in July, and their Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign to kick off this September.
Jamaica's senior men's only previous trip to the World Cup was France 1998. The Boyz have never won the regional Gold Cup, but were back-to-back finalists in 2015 and 2017, and semi-finalists at the 2019 edition.
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