Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Bailey: I am ready but ...

Published:Saturday | October 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Phoenix Academy founder Craig Butler (centre) and standout players - his sons Leon Bailey (left) and Kyle Butler.

Rising football star, Jamaica's Leon Bailey, says that he's ready to represent the Reggae Boyz.

However, Bailey, in an exclusive interview with The Gleaner, remains adamant that certain conditions must be met by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) before he dons the black, green, and gold of the national team.

The Jamaica-born Bayer Leverkusen winger revealed on Thursday that he had accepted an invitation for the CONCACAF League of Nations game against Bonaire tomorrow based on an agreement he had with the JFF before coming home.

However, he told The Gleaner that he changed his mind following a meeting with the federation. According to him, they (JFF) went back on their word after previously agreeing to terms for him to play.

Despite the differences, Bailey said the door is not closed as he loves his country and wants to play a role in the progress of the nation's football. However, he needs certain assurances and is hoping that the JFF reconsiders its position and agrees to his request ahead of their next game against Suriname on November 17.

"Obviously, I came to Jamaica because of the international call-up. I did agree to come based on the agreement we had. But when I got here, it was a totally different scenario. They didn't keep their end (of the deal), therefore, I decided not to play this game.

"I am here for one reason: to represent the country. But they (JFF) didn't keep their end. Once they are willing to do that, I am ready to put on the national team jersey," he said.

The sticking point concerns Bailey's brother, Kyle Butler. The federation wants to put the latter on trial, but Bailey believes that a professional player such as Kyle should not go through the scrutiny of a trial when players playing at a lower level are not required to do so.

He noted that the meeting, which was chaired by general secretary Dalton Wint, in place of president, Michael Ricketts who is away with the women's national team, was a big disappointment, and although not wanting to go into details, he admitted that he needs Kyle to be part of the set-up because of their understanding and his qualities as a player.

"By this November, if they are willing to go ahead with whatever we've asked of them, I'll be ready to represent my country. It (Kyle's snub by the JFF), is a big part of it. I need players who can understand me. You can't expect me to jump in a system and expect it to work. I need help. I am a winner, a Phoenix, and I don't like losing, so I need people who I know are capable of making things happen," he reasoned.

There has been much speculation about Bailey's international future, and although he wants to play for Jamaica, he says he has to consider his professional future.

"I want to be one of the best in the world, and I love my country very much. But I also have to think about my best interest, and coming to play for Jamaica without proper help can damage my career. Not because I am doing well in European football means I can come here and destroy everybody.

"One person by himself cannot do it. I will need support from good players, and I know good players because I grew up playing with good players, and I now play with good players, and all I am asking for is a few things, and they can't resolve that. So if they can't help me, I won't be able to help them. It is in their hands. Once they do what they are supposed to, come November, I can represent the country. So I hope they rethink and be clever. I want to represent the country ... It's in their hands to make it happen," he said.

Bailey added that he was hoping to get an idea of what Theodore Whitmore's system of play is like, but all that went through the window when the JFF backtracked on their agreement.

"One of the reasons I came is so I could get an understanding of the system. But everything went the opposite way at the meeting. I was looking forward to seeing what it would be like here (in the team), but when I came, was a total different situation.

"Hopefully, they will reconsider everything we have discussed as I am willing to represent the country," he said.