With the international stage set firmly in Brazil, Giles Barnes has his national-team focus shifting to the Caribbean.
After a youth career playing for England, the Houston Dynamo forward is in the process of filing a one-time switch to represent Jamaica. Now just down to the paperwork before the switch is finalized, Barnes will be able to represent the Reggae Boyz in an attempt to revitalize his international career and fulfill another childhood dream.
“You always want to play international football; it’s a dream as a child,” Barnes told MLSsoccer.com. “The first one was playing in the Premier League. I did, and so the next one’s playing internationally. Hopefully I can achieve that as well. You’ve got to get selected, but I think I’ve got a lot to offer. That’s just me. I’m not being big-headed, but I’ve played at the highest level, and I can play at a variety of positions.”
The conversation between Barnes and Jamaica dates back several years, when the nation contacted the then-Derby County star about suiting up in the green and yellow. At the time, his English career was still building and he was dealing with injuries.
Since, Barnes has seen his career transform from budding youth star for the Three Lions to Major League Soccer, where he has carved out a spot in the lineup for the Dynamo.
Now Barnes is ready to jump back into the international game, with current and former teammates pushing him along. Former Dynamo midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, now with FC Dallas, was the first of his Jamaican teammates to approach him about the idea.
“We’ve definitely talked about it,” said Jamaican international and Dynamo forward Omar Cummings. “When you have a guy like Giles for your national team, along with all the guys going in, if you can get that chemistry with him going in up front, it’ll be good for Jamaica. He’ll have guys he knows in the national team. Guys like Jermaine [Taylor] or myself or [Dynamo forward Jason Johnson] and a lot of guys that play in MLS. I know he likes it and wants to be there, but it’s all about chemistry.”
According to Barnes, who said the transfer will be a way to honor his grandfather, who is of Jamaican decent, the only thing keeping his paperwork from being complete is obtaining a few documents. The move is a familiar one for the Jamaican setup, as the federation reached into their dual national pool with players such as Wes Morgan and Jobi McAnuff during the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying.
“These are all people I know and grew up playing against, so to be able to go fit in that system is not going to be a problem,” said Barnes. “A lot of my friends play for the Jamaican national side as well, so it’ll be a good experience for me.”
As the host of the 2014 Caribbean Cup, Jamaica will compete in Group B of the eight-team final tournament in November, hoping to win the tournament and qualify automatically for the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the United States. The top four teams advance to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, while a fifth team will play off against the fifth-place finisher at the 2014 Copa Centroamericana for the final spot in the Gold Cup.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.