Jamaican option open for Ravel Morrison
Ravel Morrison’s relatively short career as a professional footballer has frequently been underpinned by his alleged off-field antics rather than what he is capable of on the pitch. His sensational solo goal for West Ham at White Hart Lane in early October serves as a frank reminder of just the sort of skill he has in his locker. With his future looking on the up in London under the watchful eye of Sam Allardyce, attention could soon turn to his future international commitments…
Having represented England at various youth levels, he is yet to receive a call-up to the senior squad, thus isn’t tied down to one country yet. Born into a fragmented family in England to a Jamaican mother, Morrison is eligible for Jamaica and reportedly contemplated joining the Reggae Boyz setup last year whilst on loan at Birmingham City. The Caribbean island is known for regularly plucking out British-born players with Jamaican heritage whose international aspirations for the nation they’re born in are rather bleak. Current Reggae Boyz such as Theo Robinson, Jermaine Beckford, Marlon King, Jobi McAnuff, Garath McCleary and Wes Morgan are all English born, but when Jamaica came knocking they took up the offer. It is commonplace in the Caribbean as a whole; Trinidad & Tobago are another example.
Morrison tweeted in November 2012: “Should I go play for Jamaica hmmm…Thinking time. In 2 minds.” The Jamaican federation is apparently very keen on acquiring Morrison’s services to help boost their chances of reaching their first World Cup since 1998. But the burgeoning question remains: is he of sufficient quality for England selection? If he continues to produce the sort of form he is currently producing, then it is hard to see Roy Hodgson ignoring the 20-year-old for much longer. After all, Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley have been given the nod for recent World Cup qualifiers. You wonder whether maybe his reported off-field behaviour might have an impact upon Hodgson’s thinking. Indeed, Roy is a notoriously cautious coach.
Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling was born in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, but was deemed good enough to represent England after he emigrated there at the age of five. Despite Jamaica’s best efforts, he decided against playing for his country of birth after realising his talents would be better used with the Three Lions, which is fair enough. The Reggae Boyz could have had Sterling and potentially Morrison in the same starting line-up…just imagine.
Should Morrison make a decision on who he intends to pledge his international future soon – and there is no rush – then it would certainly help with Jamaica’s chances going forward. They finished bottom of the CONCAFAF Qualifying Hexagonal standings, with a paltry five points from 10 matches, drawing five and losing five of their matches and only scoring five goals. Goals have been a major flaw in the side’s chances of progressing in the Hex, because although they are adept at keeping them out, the current strike-force has been way off the mark.
All-time top goal-scorer Lucas Shelton and the prolific Marlon King – who has endured previously turbulent times with the federation’s hierarchy – have been brought back in by new boss Winfried Schäfer in the hope of a solution to the attacking conundrum. The team lacks a spark down the middle, someone with invention and an instinct for creating chances…someone like Morrison. The country’s chase of the Hammers youngster has somewhat died down in the last 12 months, but under fresh management with Schäfer at the helm, the pursuit could soon be back on.
Granted, the chances of Ravel Morrison playing for Jamaica for the long-term are slim, given his recent exploits and Hodgson’s tendency of late to experiment with youngsters. The important thing is Jamaica would happily welcome him with open arms. Ultimately, the final decision is down to Ravel.