Michail Antonio, named in Jamaica’s 60-player squad to tackle last month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, has become the top ever scorer for West Ham in the English Premier League (EPL).
The London-born 31-year-old, who is eager to represent Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, broke the Hammers’ record on Monday night (August 23) with a brace during the 4-1 thrashing of former EPL champions Leicester City.
Antonio, selected for England under two different head coaches but never featured, is top of the table with with West Ham after two EPL games. His Midas touch could prove invaluable when the Boyz tackle the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next month.
Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore stressed after the nation’s weak showing at the Gold Cup how much he urgently required an out-and-out striker, and burly Antonio would certainly fit the bill.
The forward’s late double against lacklustre Leicester lifted the potential Jamaica striker two goals clear of Paolo Di Canio on 49 top-flight strikes for the Hammers. And ironically Di Canio wanted to sign him in 2011, when the Italian was coaching Swindon Town and Antonio was plying his trade at Colchester United.
Goals from Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma put West Ham 2-0 ahead. With Leicester down to 10 men, following a red card for Ayoze Perez, Youri Tielemens reduced the arrears before the dramatic late show from Antonio.
The striker had fluffed five goalscoring chances before confidently finding the bottom corner on 80 minutes to make home fans in the full capacity London Stadium erupt with delight. Antonio celebrated his achievement by recreating a scene from the movie “Dirty Dancing” with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself that he lifted in the air before giving it a comical twirl and a kiss.
Four minutes later Antonio flicked the ball above two helpless Leicester defenders then sped past them to stab the ball past ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Antonio told West Ham TV: “I don’t just want to beat the record by one or two, I want to beat it by loads so that the next person trying to get up there is not going to beat me.
“It was amazing, there is no better feeling than scoring a goal in front of fans. The first goal started off my little roll to go. I beat the record, and now I am beating it by two. But hopefully I can beat it by maybe 20.
“I have been here for six years and I have never been top of the table, so let us all enjoy that together.”
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