THE excitement was palpable as former Jamaica football goalkeeper Ryan Thompson related his emotion after University of Tampa (UT) named him a Hall of Fame inductee.
Thompson, who attended the Florida-based school from 2006 to 2010, is among nine former student-athletes and two contributors who will represent the 2022 class of the University of Tampa Athletics Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for October 20 at UT's Vaughn Center.
"It means the world to me! Honestly, my heart is filled with a lot of joy and gratitude," Thompson, 37, told the Jamaica Observer.
"It's such an honour and privilege to see the impact I had in my four years there. There are many successful businesswomen, businessmen, athletes, lawyers and doctors, etcetera, who came through the University of Tampa, and to be inducted in the Hall Fame means I had tremendous impact on many lives there," the Austin, Texas resident noted.
Thompson, captain of the university's football team for four years, set a season record with 105 saves in 2008. He was named a first-team All-American in 2009 and was also All-American in 2008.
He is founder and chief executive officer of RTG Academy, an elite mentor-based goalkeeping institution, and former head coach of the now defunct Austin Bold FC, a team which competed in the United Soccer League Championship.
Thompson, credited for mentoring UT's student-athletes, expressed his deep passion for guiding those with whom he comes into contact.
"My main purpose in life is to bring joy and inspiration to others. I pour my heart and soul into every experience and human interaction so it feels good when there is recognition for the body of work," he said.
Thompson, who came through Jamaica's Under-20 and Under-23 ranks, had 12 caps for the senior team between 2004 and 2017.
The former Camperdown High and Ardenne High schoolboy goalie is best remembered by Jamaican fans for a string of crucial saves and interventions in the country's historic second-place finish at the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Thompson was substitute for the injured Dwayne Miller in the last group-stage encounter versus El Salvador. The Reggae Boyz won 1-0 to comfortably top their group, and Thompson was rewarded with the honour of standing between the sticks for the rest of the tournament.
In the quarter-finals, the Jamaicans edged Caribbean rivals Haiti 1-0, before stunning hosts United States 2-1 in the semis. They were lionhearted in their first-ever Gold Cup final, but lost 1-3 to massive favourites Mexico.
Thompson played professionally in the US and in Sweden, but the highlight of his club career came when representing little-known Irish outfit Shamrock Rovers FC.
In the 2011-12 season Thompson was a key member of the Shamrock Rovers team which competed in the qualifying phase of the prestigious UEFA Champions League, a first in the club's history.
Shamrock were knocked out by FC Copenhagen, and entered the qualifiers for the second-tier Europa League. They defeated Partizan Belgrade to progress to the group stages, a novel achievement for a team from Ireland.