Jamaica international wannabe signs one-year top-flight deal
Ravel Morrison, whose career has been in limbo since being sold by Manchester United, has penned a one-year contract with English Premier League (EPL) newcomers Sheffield United.
The 26-year-old midfielder, whose goal is make his international for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, has become the fourth summer signing for the club.
He last played in the English top-flight in 2014 for West Ham, and has been a journeyman ever since.
After coming through the Manchester United Academy, in his home city, he was sold to West Ham. But was soon loaned out to Birmingham City, QPR and Cardiff City prior to moving overseas.
He signed for Italian outfit Lazio in 2015, had a loan spell in Mexico’s top tier with Club Atlas and ended up in Sweden with Östersunds FK (OFK) before undertaking trials with Sheffield United.
Having been championed as the next big star at Manchester United, where he won the 2011 FA Youth Cup, he was sold the following season to West Ham because of his off the pitch controversies.
Morrison mixed with the wrong crowd and was cautioned by police for common assault in 2008. He narrowly avoided jail three years later, after being charged with intimidating a witness who had been the victim of a robbery at knifepoint.
The final straw at Manchester United happened just a few months later, when he was charged with assaulting his then girlfriend and causing criminal damage.
Yet just a month after signing for West Ham he was back in trouble, having posted a homophobic threat on the social media platform Twitter.
Morrison was fined £7,000 (US$8,700) by the English Football Association for the misdemeanour and warned about his future conduct.
He was soon snapped up for loan spells in the second-tier Championship, kicking off with Birmingham.
Next he shipped out to QPR, where he bagged six league goals in 15 appearances to help the London team qualify for the EPL play-offs. However, he was an unused substitute in their Wembley win over Derby County.
He was moved onto Wales with Cardiff for three months at the start of the 2014-15 campaign, but only made one start and six substitute appearances.
West Ham put him on the transfer list but with no interest from anywhere they cancelled his contract.
But he bounced back with a shock move to the Italian capital of Rome to sign for Lazio, to follow in the footsteps of troubled English superstar midfielder Paul Gascoigne – who played for the then Italian giants from 1992-95.
But the Italian job failed miserably for Morrison, who made his token Champions League debut for the final eight minutes of a qualifying round match – when they were trailing 3-0 to German outfit Bayer Leverkusen.
He never really got much of a chance in the Italian league following his lacklustre Serie A debut, which ended with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Chievo.
He returned to QPR, on loan under the watchful eye of wily head coach Harry Redknapp. But the club were not interested in taking up the option to shell out £2m (US$2.49m) to make his move permanent.
And it was Redknapp who had a hand in Morrison being offered an initial one-year deal with Sheffield United, as manager Chris Wilder consulted him for his opinion before taking a gamble to sign the midfielder.
Surplus to requirements in Italy, Morrison moved on loan to the Mexican top flight with Club Atlas until the end of the Liga MX 2017-18 campaign. And with some fiery performances in South America he was sounded out by the Jamaican Football Federation.
Having agreed to one day represent the Boyz if selected, there were numerous delays before Morrison was granted a Jamaican passport -required before he could don a golden jersey.
Morrison spent last season in Scandinavia with OFK, and his flashes of brilliance resulted in being drafted into Jamaica’s provisional 40-player squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
But he failed to make the cut for the June/July biennial tournament, and to rub salt into his wounds was released by OFK during the Gold Cup competition.
Despite being a fan’s favourite, injury problems were deemed as the official reason that his OFK contract wasn’t renewed.
Eager to compete at the highest level he had successful trials with Sheffield United at their training camp in Portugal, and after Redknapp gave his approval has signed a 12-month deal to be part of their squad that tackles the 2019-20 EPL season.
Unfortunately his track record doesn’t bode well, and whether he will still be a Sheffield United player by the end of the season is anyone’s guess.
For now the controversial Morrison has proved himself on the pitch with the EPL newboys, and if he can stay out of trouble off the pitch then could well be given the nod to represent Jamaica for their Nations League against Antigua & Barbuda in September.
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