Bailey Given Green Light For Jamaica Debut
Whizz-kid set to pull on a Reggae Boyz jersey
Leon Bailey could make his overdue full international debut for Jamaica as early as this month, despite his club side Bayer Leverkusen objecting.
The 20-year-old Kingston-born winger, who plays for the leading German side, has been given approval to compete on the international stage following yesterday’s meeting between his father and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
Craig Butler, his father and agent, had a meeting with JFF president Michael Ricketts that cleared the air following a fall-out that was publicly aired last year.
Butler, the founder of the Kingston-based Phoenix All Stars Academy where Bailey kicked off his youth career, had apportioned the blame of his son being overlooked for the Boyz was because of team manager Roy Simpson’s reluctance.
Bailey was selected for the Jamaica U23 squad in 2015, and as a substitute scored directly from a free-kick against the Cayman Islands in the 4-0 friendly win.
However, there appears to be a massive turnaround following the breakthrough meeting.
The JFF issued a statement that read: “The meeting was mutually agreed by both parties to be amicable and productive.
“There was an understanding on a framework for a possible working relationship which will benefit Jamaica’s football.
“The JFF president indicated to Mr Butler that player Leon Bailey will be called to the national team for upcoming fixture on January 30th (non-FIFA date) and if confirmed a home fixture during the March 19-25 FIFA international window.
“The JFF president also indicated that the JFF and the technical staff of the senior team is committed to call and give a fair chance to young players who show good potential for the senior national team.
“Mr Butler indicated the areas in which he would like to contribute to the programme.”
Butler, prior to the meeting with the JFF: “With Leverkusen advocating that Leon doesn’t play for Jamaica I must consider our options, and decisions we make have far-reaching implications.
“I’ll watch a little more now from a more guarded position and see if the JFF has the courage and willingness to welcome the future of football.”
Whizzy winger Bailey is certainly considered to the future of football and has been a wanted man by a clutch of Premier League sides for some time.
Arsenal, Chelsea. Manchester City and Manchester United have all been heavily linked with Bailey ever since he scooped Young Player of the Year award in the Belgium League for the 2015-16 campaign with Genk.
He moved to Germany in January 2017 for an estimated fee of €20m and following a slow start has bagged six goals in 22 appearances.
But the English Premier League beckons with champions Chelsea having tabled a £22m offer that was turned down.
Butler is developing his protégé slowly but surely, and a playing on the international stage is the next step and probably priority over a move to the Premier League.
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