Can Jamaica me a team? Coral’s XI of stars that chose England after Antonio call-up
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | Updated August 29, 2016
England XI with Jamaican heritage
In Sam Allardyce’s first squad announcement as England boss to face Slovakia in a 2018 World Cup qualifier, he decided to go with West Ham United’s Michail Antonio, who had previously rejected a call from Jamaica.
“I turned down an approach from Jamaica in March and for this to happen so quickly, I’m buzzing,” the Hammers’ right-sided player said. “I just want to keep my feet on the floor.
“In my first season in the Premier League, even though I had good stats, the England manager would have had to take a risk on me.
“It looks like the gaffer now believes that I’ve done enough to be in there, so hopefully I can prove him right.”
Last night, Big Sam named his first England Squad: pic.twitter.com/vS4RJTVN1m
— Coral (@Coral) August 29, 2016
In light of Antonio’s first call-up for England (14/1 to win the next World Cup), Coral football writers have ground out a starting XI of English stars who at one point were (some still are) eligible to represent the famous island.
If only Jamaican officials had the power to convince this team and others to turn out for the Reggae Boyz, they would have a formidable line-up that would keep out almost all of their present players.
Unsurprisingly, our picks contain a wealth of pace and attacking flair in the side, but the following XI have followed the likes of John Barnes, Sol Campbell, Mark Chamberlain, Laurie Cunningham and Ian Wright in making themselves available for the Three Lions (2/5 to win Group F) instead.
Goalkeeper: David James
Ok, yes he is now 46 years old and retired, but the former England half-centurion keeper was only until recently a player-coach for Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters. Former Liverpool and Portsmouth stopper James qualifies for this would-be Jamaica XI through his parents, and he lived on the island as a baby.
Right back: Kyle Walker
Walker has been in and out of the England team in recent years due to injury and form issues, but the Yorkshire-born defender has made Allardyce’s first squad too after a decent 2015/16 Premier League season. The 26-year-old Tottenham full back has 19 Three Lions caps to date, despite having a Jamaican father.
Centre back: Chris Smalling
Despite his below-average performances at the start of his Manchester United career, defender Smalling has now found his feet for his club and is now arguably England’s best centre back. Smalling, of Jamaican heritage, may have only played a few minutes this season but is in the upcoming England squad.
Centre back: Liam Moore
Promising centre back Moore, who recently signed for Reading from Premier League champions Leicester City, is still eligible for the Reggae Boyz. He impressed in his debut top-flight season in 2014/15. The 23-year-old gained 11 England Under-21 caps and will look forward to being under the guidance of Dutch defensive legend Jaap Stam.
Left back: Danny Rose
Doncaster-born Rose was reportedly contacted by Jamaican officials earlier in 2015, and even considered turning out for them. After making the switch from Leeds United to Spurs, though, Rose has had call-ups to the England squad and was first-choice left back at Euro 2016.
Right wing: Aaron Lennon
Another Yorkshire-born player in this list, Lennon surely gets his lightning speed from his Jamaican father. The current Everton winger, 29, has endured injury troubles throughout his career, but still managed 21 caps for England.
Centre midfield: Ravel Morrison
Controversial former Man Utd starlet Morrison has all the talent in the world, but his misdemeanours off the pitch could result in him never being picked by England. Jamaica could, therefore, be in with a chance to get the Lazio playmaker to represent them. Morrison once said he would consider playing for the Reggae Boyz.
Attacking midfield: Raheem Sterling
Arguably the most talented name on the list, Manchester City’s Sterling was in fact the only player in this XI born in Jamaica, growing up in Kingston, before moving to London as a child.
Sterling, 21, only became eligible for England in 2009 and once seriously considered the Caribbean nation. However, he won his first of 26 Three Lions caps to date in 2012, and looks to become a world-class player in years to come under new Citizens boss Pep Guardiola after a promising start.
Left wing: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The Arsenal attacker is the son of former England international Mark Chamberlain, who was born to Jamaican parents, thus at one time making Alex eligible for the tiny nation. He has since gone on to win 24 caps for England and, still just at the age of 23, he has a promising future ahead of him. Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered from a few injuries of late, however.
Striker: Theo Walcott
Walcott is another who has lightning pace, and again probably due to his Jamaican roots – his father is from the island. Injuries have ravaged his career so far too, but looked sharp last season for the Gunners and has made Allardyce’s maiden squad too.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
Sturridge has Jamaican grandparents, but was born and brought up in Birmingham. The Liverpool star is one of the best talents in England and has 21 caps to date, though is expected to earn many more. A reported fall-out with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp near the end of the season threatened to hinder a Euros call-up, but Hodgson stuck with him and so has Allardyce.
Other current players with Jamaican roots include Rolando Aarons, Kyle Bartley, Tyler Blackett, Frazier Campbell, Nathan Dyer, Dwight Gayle, Demarai Gray, Karl Henry, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Reece Oxford, Jason Puncheon, Nathan Redmond, Wayne Routledge, Danny Simpson, Scott Sinclair and Andre Wisdom. They are all still eligible for Jamaica.
Can any of the above players get into our XI in the near future?
Crystal Palace summer signing Andros Townsend, meanwhile, also has Jamaican heritage, but no longer qualifies for the Caribbean nation having earned official England caps.