Guyana under-17 star Jeremy Garrett (pictured) had a training stint with Portugal's Sporting Lisbon in 2016 and is hoping to return later this year.
Guyana under-17 standout Jeremy Garrett is making massive strides in football. The midfielder is blessed with pace, technique and leadership abilities. Garrett, who celebrated his 17th birthday on New Year’s Day, took some time to speak to CONCACAF.com about time spent recently in Portugal and his future goals.
How old were you when you started to play football?
I started to play football when I was about five-years-old. I would play at home or at school. From there, I realized that this was a passion of mine that I wanted to continue and progress with.
What would you say has been the proudest moment of your young career?
In 2014, I made my Guyanese U17 national team debut at only 14-years-old. That was my proudest moment representing Guyana at youth level. Two years later, I went on to captain my country at U-17 and this was a wonderful opportunity. Not many people get to play for their country much less captain their country, so for me this was important and quite an accomplishment. Despite not advancing to the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, I still felt that as a team we grew and hopefully at the U-20 level we can improve and qualify for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
Who is your favorite football player?
I would say my favorite player or a player I look up to a lot is Angel Di Maria of Paris Saint-Germain. When he was playing in La Liga with Real Madrid and in the Premier League with Manchester United, he was a player that can create a chance out of nothing. As a midfielder that is what I would like to do and work on. Creating these sorts of chances can help you and your team to win more games. The amount of trophies he has won is no fluke, all coming from hard work. Also, to average a goal or assist every two games is remarkable, so output is key as well.
You recently went on a one-month trial with Portuguese giant Sporting Lisbon. How would you summarize that experience?
It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. Being the second Guyanese-born player, after Alex Bunbury, to be in Portugal was quite an achievement for me. To train with the club that produced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Luis Figo and many others is quite an honor. Football in Europe compared to the Caribbean is different. The pace is quicker. It is physical, yes, but more emphasis on the ball. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.
You will be returning to Portugal in the summer for another trial with a view to a pro contract. What are you hoping to achieve?
I am happy that I’m able to go back. I do feel with this chance I can go to selectors that I am ready for a professional contract. I must say that even if I do not get it I won’t feel too hard done. I feel that everything will fall into place in time and that I would have helped put Guyanese football on the map. When people think Guyana, they think of cricket and music and other things. Hopefully, my impression can lead to other youngsters getting the same opportunity that I am getting.
What are your goals for 2017?
For 2017, I am hoping to impress on my trial and keep working on improving my performance on the pitch. I try to watch as much football as I can in order to see how players react in different situations. I am hoping that will help me in my development off the pitch, so that I can have mental growth.
What are your goals as a player?
I would like to become a professional footballer and captain my country at all levels leading up to the senior team. The U-20 level is next for me, so in 2018 I would have to ensure I stay on my game and work hard. The senior team is the ultimate level. At this level, you are at the few percent of people on the planet who go on and play for their country at the senior level. For Guyana, I would like to help them qualify for a major tournament like the CONCACAF Gold Cup or the FIFA World Cup. We have an abundance of raw talent in Guyana and I believe the future is bright for our country.
What advice do you give to youths who plan to play football professionally?
For youngsters who intend on playing football professionally, I say that they should be sure this is what they love. Some players do not have the passion after a while and give up. Be sure this is what you want to do for the rest of your life. You will succeed once you keep working at your craft every day. It will take time, but keep at it and you will succeed.