Newcomer Turgott expresses burning desire to cement Boyz spot

Thursday, June 10, 2021

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NAGOYA, Japan — Blair Turgott, at first glance, may not impress with his slight frame.

But he should not be judged only by his wiry build, for he's got ability, and more importantly, a burning desire to represent the Reggae Boyz.

Turgott, 27, made his Jamaica debut in a friendly international against Serbia in Kobe on Monday, a game which ended 1-1.

Having his first bite of the cherry, the Sweden-based winger wants more of the sweet taste of wearing the black, gold, and green of his ancestral home.

The English-born Turgott believes he has done enough to catch the eyes of Coach Theodore Whitmore. He may well have, for he was very involved in Monday night's match and even had a hand in his team's goal by supplying the pass that ultimately led to Andre Gray netting in the 29th minute.

“I hope [I got the coach's attention] because I tried to show what I was about as a player as I like to be on the front foot, and I like to press high.

“I also like to get on the ball to make things happen. All in all, I am happy with my performance, and I think it was a good debut,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Turgott, who grew through the ranks at West Ham United, said he slowly found his footing against Serbia, having to learn on the spot with new teammates, and few training sessions under his belt before the game.

“I thought I worked my way into the game, and being an attacking player, the more of the ball I got, is the more I put myself in those [attacking] situations, the more I grew into the game.

“It was also good to be involved in the goal, and another day I could have scored. Also, it was the first time I was playing with Javon [East] and Andre [Gray] upfront, so it was completely different for me, plus getting used to everyone's game.

“But hopefully the more games we have and the more training sessions we have, we can show how effective we can be,” he noted.

Turgott, who suits up for Ostersunds in the Swedish top flight, admits that his appetite for further engagement with the Boyz has opened to the point where he has zoomed in on the Concacaf Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying tournaments coming up in the summer.

“I think every player wants to be part of the biggest occasions and experiences, and it's no secret that I want to be in the team, and I am going to do everything I can while I am playing with the team to be in the manager's thoughts.

“No doubt, I am looking forward to it (Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers) and I expect a lot of exciting games,” Turgott said with a glint of excitement in his eyes.

Reflecting on Monday's game where the Boyz were clear victors in the first half, and shared spoils in the second, Turgott thought overall it was a “positive” day on the park.

“I thought it was a positive result. I thought in the first half we did well, and in the second half they got back into the game and obviously that was going to happen because they are a good team.

“Although it was a game of two halves, I thought we had done enough to win it and there were many positives to take from the game that will put us in a good stride going forward,” was his take on affairs.

As a newcomer, Turgott said he was immediately made to feel at home.

“From day one, everyone has made me feel welcomed and you can see that it's a family environment, and the best teams are going to have that, and I think we have that here,” he stated.

The former Leyton Orient man, who qualifies to represent Jamaica through his Windrush Generation grandparents, says his game is always evolving, claiming that it's an ongoing process as he works to improve on it.

“Certainly, I want to score more goals each time I play. I am probably my worst critic, and I know the things that I think I can improve on. All round, I don't think you can be happy with your strengths and your weaknesses.

“I just need to keep working on my all-round game, getting better with your strengths and keep working on your weaknesses,” Turgott shared.

For his club in Scandinavia, the nippy wide player says his year and half there has been “really good”.

“Last season I scored eight goals, and this season I started out really well…we played eight games and I scored five goals. We also had a Cup competition and I scored three goals,” said Turgott.

He said his professional club career has been a roller-coaster ride, but one he has taken in stride.

“Growing up from the age of seven to 21, I was at West Ham, then I went on loan moves after I worked my way up from being a reserve player. Then I went to Leyton Orient for a year.

“In England, You must work hard to make a name for yourself in football, and that's what I have done — there were many steps up and many steps backwards, but that's the ups and downs of football, but you just have to keep believing in yourself that your time will come.

“But I am thankful for the journey so far and I think that all those experiences that I have had is going to put me in good stead for the future,” he noted.

Turgott, no stranger to the island with his many trips to visit with relatives in Portland and Clarendon, said what he misses the most when playing in Sweden is the Jamaican cuisine he grew up on.

“My favourite food is curried goat, but the traditional ackee and saltfish never goes amiss. I have to drop oxtails in there as well,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Boyz conducted a lively training session at Nagoya Port Stadium on Wednesday as preparation moves into high gear for Saturday's friendly international against Japan's Olympic squad.