Wed | Jun 29, 2016

SUNDAY TALK - Lovel Palmer - His world of football and family

Published:Sunday | May 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Lovel Palmer (14) training with his Reggae Boyz teammates at the National Stadium last year. - File
Palmer's sister, 2009 World 100 metres hurdles champion Brigitte Foster Hylton.
Lovel Palmer (right) during his time with Harbour View listening to instructions from the late Barrington 'Cobra' Gaynor in 2005. - File

Jamaican international Lovel Palmer stops by for today's chat. Witty, positive and extremely driven, the defender/midfielder has built a solid reputation for himself; first at Harbour View and now in Major League Soccer (MLS), where he represents Real Salt Lake.

The footballer gives us a look beyond what is seen on the field as he jogs his memory to his experiences growing up in St Elizabeth his love for '90s cartoon Captain Planet; his rivalry with his celebrity sister and some of the challenges he has faced in life.

Let's talk!

André Lowe (AL): Lovel, let's start as usual by turning back the clock and hearing a bit about your early days growing up; from your school days to your introduction to football.

Lovel Palmer (LP): Growing up in St Elizabeth, Jamaica, was fun and different - free flowing every day, all day. I wasn't thinking or dreaming of playing professional football. What was fun for me was waking up in the mornings, tying out the goats, cleaning the house, washing the dishes before getting ready for and walking to school. It was about a 30-minute walk chatting with friends and counting cars on my way to and from school and thinking about going home to eat dinner and watch cartoons such as Captain Planet.

I was introduced to Nigel Casserly who was the PR manager of the Alpart Bauxite Plant in St Elizabeth at age 13. He was putting together an Under-14 team to go play in the Norway Cup and I went and tried out for his team and the rest is history.

AL: Country life a di greatest! Anyway, do you have any kids yet or yuh still waving the 'Board Man' flag as we Jamaicans would say? (Laughs)

LP: (Laughs) No kids as yet. As a matter a fact, when I'm with the national team we would play a game of Baby Fathers vs Geldings and I'm the captain of the Gelding team.

AL: Hahahaha Ok boss, take your time, no rush anyway right? What about a wife or a girlfriend?

LP: Wife? No, I'm not married. Girlfriend? Yes ... well let's say that most days I do have a girlfriend, when she is not mad at me (laughs).

AL: By the way, did your parents ever tell you why you got the name 'Lovel'? It's not a normal name?

LP: Yeah my dad told me it was a "lovely night" so Lovel was the most fitting name for me ... (laughs) Ok I'm joking, I was named after my dad, so I'm a junior.

AL: All right, Lovel Palmer Junior, let me leave your business for a bit. Now I happen to know that you are big on family. Tell us about the influence of your family on your personal development and if at all, also on your path in football.

LP: Yeah, I'm very big on family, they mean the world to me and I think I'll go as far as saying they are the reason I was determined to make it and am determined to stay as I can professionally, so I can give them a better life. It's funny because they never yet said to me I have to play football or anything like that growing up. As far as I can remember, the only time my dad really ever got mad at me about football was when I told him I wanted to leave Harbour View for another local club, he was furious.

AL: Not many persons know this but you happen to have a famous sister, don't you?

LP: Ha, no that's not true. What many persons don't know, is that my sister happens to have a famous brother (laughs). Shout out to ma big sis, Brigitte Foster Hylton.

AL: Tell us about your relationship with Brigitte and what it was like growing up together.

LP: Brigitte and I have a really good relationship when we are not fighting, which we do a lot. I honestly wonder how Mr Hylton (Brigitte's husband Patrick) puts up with the both of us sometimes (laughs).But I must say that I'm lucky to have a professional athlete as a big sis, so I pretty much pattern my life off her because in my eyes I wanted to be successful in football and she has the recipe, so why not be close to her and learn all I could.

AL: Honestly, if you and Brigitte should run a flat 100m right now, who would win?

LP: I would definitely win; hands down! She has nothing on me. I'm kinda the guy behind the gold medal she won at the World Championship in Germany (laughs).

AL: You are a competitive and successful sportsman and your sister Brigitte is also very successful and competitive, is this played out in any sort of sibling rivalry now or maybe back in the day?

LP: Yeah, we are both very competitive. Our biggest rivalry is when I'm home and we are in the gym together. It's a competition to see who can lift the most and do the most reps and we all know the result, she wins (laughs).

AL: Now, you recently moved to Real Salt Lake in the MLS after previously representing Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo. First, what has the MLS experience been like for you and how are you settling in Salt Lake City?

LP: The MLS experience has been great ever since I made the move to Houston from Harbour View in 2010. I've learned so much about the game, I'm a smarter player, my fitness level is different, the workload is a lot more and you learn how to be a professional. Salt Lake is great, I'm loving the city and the team thanks to Khari Stephenson and Andy Williams, my Jamaican family; the transition has been great.

AL: Do you see yourself playing in Europe someday?

LP: I never put a limit on my career or myself. At the moment, I'm in the MLS and that's where my focus is and if the opportunity arises for me to go to Europe, then we will cross that bridge when it's time.

AL: If you could choose any team to play for, which team would that be and why?

LP: I grew up watching David Beckham and would love to play on whatever team he is at.

AL: Now, many professionals have experienced trauma and challenges before or during their careers. What would be your greatest such experience?

LP: Wow, there is so much to choose from. The amount of time I've been told I was not good enough; hearing that all the time was my biggest challenge. However, I have a few words I always say to myself. "My talent wasn't given to me by mankind so why should I make their negative words get me down," and those words gave me the strength to move past all the haters.

AL: Using one word, how would you describe yourself?

LP: The one word to describe Lovel is 'Warrior'. Always working hard, staying on the grind.

AL: Oh ... so a you Etana did a sing 'bout? (Laughs). Ok, let's test your movie taste. What's the best movie you have seen in a while and why?

LP: The best movie I've seen in a while is 42, which is the Jackie Robinson story. It shows how to overcome the obstacles and hate in your way on your journey to success.

AL: Yeah, I think I saw you tweeting about that a few days ago, I'll definitely watch it. Anyway, thanks for the chat and all the best. Hope to see you in the squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers too.


"What's the difference between a three-week-old puppy and a sportswriter? In six weeks, the puppy stops whining."

- Mike Ditka, former NFL player and coach.