Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Priestly still yearns to represent country

Published:Monday | January 11, 2016 | 1:00 AMLivingston Scott
Akeem Priestly (righg) reacts as Tivoli Gardens' Jerry Walters kicks the ball during a Premier League football match at Edward Seaga Sports Complex in 2009.

Almost a decade after playing the last of his six games for the Reggae Boyz, creative midfielder Akeem Priestly still has the hope, desire and will to represent his country.

The former Harbour View player just completed the Guatemala top-flight season with Antigua GFC, playing a starring role in their first-ever championship.

The well-travelled player, who made his senior international debut at age 19 against Guatemala, believes he still has something to offer at the international level and thinks he is playing well enough to earn a recall.

"I did multiple interviews in Guatemala and they (reporters) asked me why I am not playing for the national team. They watch the team (Jamaica) and say what I show I could definitely make the team. But I tell them it's beyond my control," admitted Priestly.

 

GREAT POTENTIAL

 

"At one point (Winfried) Sch‰fer saw one of my videos and showed some interest, but in terms of a follow-up, I didn't hear anything.

"I have been performing internationally from I was little and in the games that I played, I showed I have the potential to be in the national team.

"Now the older me has learned a whole heap more, is smarter and more experienced. It's just to get the opportunity as I am always looking to play for my country," the player who turns 31 in April told The Gleaner.

Priestly has spent the last five years abroad, plying his trade in Azerbaijan, the United States, Finland and Bangladesh and thinks playing for the national team would also give his family a chance to see him perform in person.

"Playing for the country would give me an opportunity to let my family come to my games. That is something I look forward to, but it's up to them (selectors)," he added.

The flamboyant and tricky playmaker, who is commonly called 'Boogie' locally, was a crowd favourite since joining Antigua GFC at mid-season in October, and he found the experience of playing in a football-mad country like Guatemala very inspiring and encourages local players to try and break into the international market to gain experience in like environments.

 

GOOD PERFORMANCE

 

"My performance was really good throughout. I scored a few goals and had a few assists, and in the final, I had a good performance. It was a great feeling helping them to their first championship," he said.

"Football-wise, I really like the city. I really enjoy the football, the style of play. They are more technical, more touches, and as such, and it really suits my game. I feel at home there. Even before you go on the field you are ready to play because you are playing in a country where the people love football, so your game goes up without you doing anything different just because of the energy. So those things motivate me ... if nobody is in the stands, you won't have any motivation.

"Apart from Arnett or Waterhouse, you don't really get that vibe when you are playing here," he pointed out.

"Any player who used to play overseas and comes back here can tell you it's a different feeling when you are lacing up your boots," he insisted.

Although the player is currently a free agent, he is constantly in contact with his agent and expects to join a team soon, as he is looking for an even better 2016.

"I want the best for myself, so, God's willing, He will provide something. I will just continue to play hard and play my football. If you are playing good football, you are going to stand out no matter where you are, and that is all I want to do: try and improve in any way possible. That is the aim, to get better for 2016," he added.