Michail Antonio, who surprisingly only lasted just 70 minutes on his highly-hyped international debut for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz last weekend, has scooped the prestigious the English Premier League (EPL) August Player of the Month award.
The 31-year-old bounced back from the disappointment of his 10,500-mile round-trip to Jamaica to win the coveted prize having struck four times and provided three goal assists for West Ham United in their trio of EPL games, which briefly saw them elevated to the top of the table.
During the international break the burly London-born striker represented the Boyz at Kingston’s National Stadium, starting the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Panama but was substituted with 20 minutes remaining in the 3-0 reversal.
Yet joining up with Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore was not wasted as the nation have plenty more World Cup qualifiers to tackle, starting with the mighty United States next month. Antonio’s usual combination of power, pace and sizzling finishes should be a real asset to the Boyz once he gels with his team-mates.
Antonio, who had a trial with Tottenham Hotspur aged 14, kicked off his career for non-league Tooting & Mitcham United in 2008, and obtained a diploma in sport during his early playing days. Before joining Championship club Reading the same year, he toyed with applying for university.
Four years later Antonio moved to Sheffield Wednesday as an emergency loan deal then signed a four-year contract, only for Nottingham Forest to swoop in 2014 with a £1.5m (US$2m) transfer.
He turned down £4m (US$5.5m) bids from Derby County and West Bromwich Albion in 2015, weeks later he joined West Ham for £7m (US$9.7m) where he has since become their all-time top scorer in the EPL.
This term Antonio has been on fire in the league, managing to both score and provide a goal assist in all three matches against Newcastle, Leicester City and Crystal Palace respectively, to take his tally for West Ham to 50 league goals.
He was the shining star in the comprehensive 4-1 home success over Leicester City, creating one goal and bagging a brace. His first strike became a record-breaker as the club’s top EPL goalscorer in the Premier League, which he celebrated in style. He recreated a scene from the movie “Dirty Dancing” with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself, which he lifted in the air before giving it a comical twirl and a kiss.
The National Football Museum in Manchester, England has since approached the Jamaican international in a bid to add this cardboard cut-out to its collection.
Off the pitch Antonio has also been getting things moving and has invested in Rezzil, an English-based virtual reality platform for elite sports that includes a plethora of EPL clubs as clients.
Antonio used this Rezzil technology, which offers virtual training and rehabilitation drills for players, while recovering from a hamstring injury and when training was impossible because of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Now Whitmore, under the cosh in the nation’s push to reach next year’s FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar, needs to urgently get Antonio repeating his club form for the Boyz.
The West Ham favourite – who allegedly earns £70,000 (US$97,000) a week – is physically strong and extremely fast with ball. Combine these assets with his terrific positional sense and great timing then he becomes highly effective as he shown at club level.
Whitmore and Antonio both have shot to grab more glory, and there will be no better stage for them than 2022 Qatar.
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