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Aim higher - Ricketts urge J'can players to target Europe, not MLS

Published:Saturday | January 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott
National striker Daren Mattocks has spent his entire professional career to date playing in the MLS. He is one of several Jamaicans currently playing in North America.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Michael Ricketts, said the highest level of football is currently being played in Europe and that is where our best players should aspire to play.

Nevertheless, he agreed with England-based agent Nasir Gray, who recently stated that Jamaican and Caribbean players should use the MLS as a stepping stone to reach Europe. But unlike Gray, the JFF president does not believe the MLS should be the main focus for aspiring, young local players.

"Everybody thinks differently, and with the level and the quality football being played in Europe, young players will gravitate towards Europe and England.

"I would also think the monetary benefits are better in Europe. The US leagues are nice for young players. A lot of them go to university, so it's a lot easier for them to leave university to the MLS.

"But as a young player I would aspire to go Europe where I think the best football is. The monetary rewards are also much better and I think the level in Europe will more benefit our players," he said.

However, he noted that the MLS has played its part and continue to play an important role in the development of Jamaican players.

"The MLS has served us very well, because I know players who have and are doing very well in the MLS. So I wouldn't complain too much about the MLS. If a player is good enough to go to Europe it shouldn't be difficult to make a mark in the MLS," he continued.

"Europe is the best place for a players with the right attitude and quality. So getting to Europe is the ultimate ambition of any youngster. We would not count the experience garnered in the MLS, USL and Canada. But if you can't make it to Europe then go to the MLS and that could be a stepping stone," he added.

Gray, an experienced agent, believes US leagues are a good place to start for upcoming Caribbean talent and encouraged regional footballers to focus on making an impact closer to home.

"Being in the US is good for a lot of us, it's a good stepping stone cause it's close to home. It is not a bad place to start off. Maybe for a couple years and step up," he stated.