Tue | Sep 19, 2017

A man who got the job done

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 6:00 AMNodley Wright
In this June 2008 file photo, Captain Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation, checks the firmness of the bed following the handing over of the refurbished residence of the Reggae Boyz by Courts Jamaica Limited. Reggae Boy Deon Burton (centre) looks on, while at left is Lorenzo Pearson of Pings Fabrics.

Like their locally based counterparts, United Kingdom-based members of the historic Reggae Boyz team which qualified for the 1998 World Cup were shocked and saddened by the passing of Jamaica Football Federation, Captain Horace Burrell.

"I was in deep shock when I heard of the passing of Captain. It really shook me up," said Fitzroy Simpson, who woke up to the news on Wednesday morning.

"I am lost for words, really, for the first time. When I think of Cappo, I think of his stance, his presence, his voice, and his command. He was a man who got the job done and always wanted to get it done," the combative midfielder, who added some well-needed steel and leadership to the country's team in the latter stages as it made a final push for the historic 1998 World Cup in France, continued.

Simpson was one of four England-based players who were selected from a group who paid their way to try out for the national team. Only three, Simpson, Deon Burton and Paul Hall, all of whom were then attached to Portsmouth, took up the offer. The fourth, Dwight Marshall, sustained injuries and was never able to do so.

 

BEST CHAPTER

 

"Captain was very integral to the Reggae Boyz story, original Reggae Boyz story. He had a vision, as we all know, and I can't thank him enough for bringing me to the best chapter in my life.

"He was integral in my welcoming on my arrival in Jamaica. Even after my retirement with football, I still met up with Captain. We had good fun in Cayman. Also, while in London, he would ring me and we would meet up. He is someone I had a lot of respect for. He is a big loss to Jamaica's football. God bless him and his family. I will truly miss him.

 

OPENED DOORS

 

Burton, who joined the team as a 20-year-old, echoed Simpson's sentiments.

"I owe him so much. Captain gave me the best opportunity of my life, the chance of representing Jamaica and everything that came with it. It opened even more doors for me," said Burton who scored some crucial goals for Jamaica, including an important strike to level the score against the United States in Washington, DC in 1997.

Burton had a run of four goals in five games, which was a major help in Jamaica qualifying for the World Cup. That performance earned him the honour of Jamaica's Sportsman of the Year.

"Many things in my career would not have happened had it not been for him and him getting RenÈ Simies here and giving him the blessing to give us a chance to try out. After playing for Jamaica, I made a move to Derby County, which was a big thing for me at the time.

For Burton, who, like Simpson, asked to be kept abreast of funeral plans, Captain Burrell is irreplaceable.

"It is really a sad, sad day for me and our football. Without Captain's hunger, vision, dedication and commitment to keep pushing even when things were difficult, we would not have had the success that we had as a country and a team. There will never be another like Captain," a distraught Burton concluded.