Jamaica’s Thompson continues football dream in St. Louis

Jamaica international goalkeeper Ryan Thompson (pictured) in action for St. Louis FC during a USL game at the Orange County Blues on April 2, 2016, in Irvine, California. (Photo courtesy of the Orange County Blues)

ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- Football has opened the door for goalkeeper Ryan Thompson to see the world, while offering him the chance to compete for his country.

The 31-year-old played in four games for Jamaica at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and was recently named to the Reggae Boyz’s provisional roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

“It is going to be one of the biggest tournaments...like a pre-World Cup when you look at it. You’ll have the likes of Messi, Suarez, Cavani, James Rodriguez and all these big players,” Thompson told CONCACAF.com. “Not only that, to get an opportunity to face Mexico again, who beat us in the Gold Cup final.

“I’m sure everyone that gets the opportunity to be there will cherish that moment because it’s a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

After playing on a scholarship at the University of Tampa, Thompson’s moved around for his professional career, playing in Ireland and Sweden and now with St. Louis FC of the USA’s USL.

He enjoyed being part of the Shamrock Rovers side that competed in qualifying rounds for the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League, ultimately becoming the first Irish team to progress to the group stage of a European competition in that year’s UEFA Europa League.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I just wanted to play football,” said Thompson about his Irish adventure. “When I went there I got a contract and I was competing with Northern Ireland national team goalkeeper.

“I was in Europe, living my dream despite not getting an opportunity in America. That’s why it means so much to me. We made a run when I least expected it.”

Thompson has been working his way back from a leg injury suffered in a league game last month, but doesn’t have to look far for motivation.

He thinks back to last year’s Gold Cup -- starting in the final against Mexico -- as an indicator of what the game can do for him. With Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela on the Copa America Centenario horizon, Thompson wants to be ready.

“It (the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup) was an unbelievable experience and something that’s going to live with me for my entire life,” Thompson finished. “I was happy that my mom was able to come and see it and my wife and watch a couple of games. They saw me living my dream.”

A football dream with many scenes still waiting to be played out.