Jamaica's football history
Newton Sterling - The Upcoming Star
Sunday, April 30, 2006
A few weeks ahead of the historic match up between Jamaica and England at Old Trafford, senior RBSC reporter, Mosiah Marshall, sat down with selectee-hopeful, Newton Sterling, for a one-on-one interview.
Name: Newton Sterling
Date of Birth: November 12, 1984
Current Club: Village United
Previous Clubs: Sogndal (Norway), GIF Sundsvall (Sweden), Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel), Constant Spring FC, Real Mona, Harbour View F.C., Berlin FC (St. Thomas), Springfield (St. Thomas)
Height: 6'-4' (1.93m)
Weight: 198 lbs (89.8 Kg)
MM: When did you start playing football?
NS: From about grade 2 at Morant Bay Primary school, from I Was about age 4 or 5. My dad used to coach a team.
MM: You thought then that you had any talent?
NS: Yeah! From then I was scoring goals.
MM: Were you a big 5 year old?
NS: I wouldn't say I was big, but I was tall. I have always been tall for my age.
MM: And then you went to which high school?
NS: St. Thomas Technical
MM: So you played at the various age group levels?
NS: Yes, with the U-14, then the U-16, then daCosta Cup.
MM: What position did you play?
NS: I played almost every position in primary school. In high school, left back and striker.
MM: Were you ever pressured to play in goal because of your height?
NS: No, not really.
MM: So, tell me about your daCosta Cup career?
NS: I played left back for the first two seasons, from age 15 and then I played striker.
MM: What is it that makes you attractive as a left fullback?
NS: Squares and I can kick to goal well. In 2002 when I played with the Liverpool Allstars as a left back then, I thought I had a very good game then.
MM: Did you play other sports at St. Thomas Tech.?
NS: Yes, I played cricket, track & field. I tried everything, even lawn tennis. Only basketball I didn't try.
MM: And why not basketball?
NS: Maybe because people always going to assume that I play basketball, so that's why I didn't try it.
MM: So you played Headley Cup cricket. What was your specialty, bowling, batting?
NS: I was a pace bowler, and a pretty good one. I have an uncle who used to play for Jamaica. His name is Brian Murphy.
MM: What events did you do in T&F?
NS: I did 100m, 200m and the 4X100 relay. I ran 10.7 in the 100m, and 21 something in the 200.
MM: Those are pretty fast times. Did you have any thought then that maybe that's what you wanted to do?
NS: Sometimes I felt like going to T&F trials but every time something would come up in football that I really want to do so, I would choose football all the time.
MM: We interviewed Luton Shelton some time ago. I don't think he ever gave me a time for a 100m, but it is clear that he also has world-class speed. Do you find that when you train with the Reggae Boyz that our coaches try to make use of that advantage, where we have at least two very fast forwards?
NS: Yes, I think they do.
MM: Okay. Because a lot of people on our website always say that we have the fastest people in the world in Jamaica but you could never tell by the way we play football.
NS: Maybe it's just the way we play, or the pace of the game.
MM: Yes, but a lot of us would want to see us maximize the use of through balls where our speedy forwards could sprint on to, but you believe we do that already.
MM: What happened after St. Thomas Tech?
NS: Well I was playing with Harbour View while I was at school - U-14, minor league, U-20. I was also playing for the Eastern Conference and was seen by Jackie Walters who was coaching Real Mona at the time. So he asked me if I wanted to play for them and I accepted. So I was at Mona for 3 seasons. Then I went to Constant Spring, back to Mona then to Israel.
MM: How did you get that Israel deal?
NS: Through Altimont Butler and Jackie Walters. Also Howard McIntosh, he is my manager.
MM: Which club was that in Israel?
NS: Hapoel Jerusalem in the 2nd Division.
MM: That was your first stint abroad. How did you adjust to that experience? Was it easy?
NS: Yes, it was easy, because you are just coming out of high school at 19 years old. Everybody is looking to get an overseas contract. So it was the perfect opportunity for me.
MM: So how was Israel?
NS: Well, everybody was asking me about the bombings. But it was okay. We have similar problems in Jamaica. We just use guns.
MM: Did you witness any bombings while there?
NS: No, I didn't. But there is a placed called Beer Sheba where they found a bomb on the same street where our hotel was.
MM: So, what position did you play in Israel?
MM: And for how long was the contract?
NS: Half a season.
MM: Was it a successful half season?
NS: Yes. I found out that I needed to have an operation so. . .
MM: So they operated and you played for them after that?
MM: And you are completely healed now?
MM: Where did your team end up in the tables?
NS: I think they came 4th.
MM: Where did you go after that?
NS: I came back to Jamaica and then onto Sweden for a trial with GIF Sundsvall. I was there for 2 months, got injured with a pulled muscle. That was the first time I was playing in the cold. Then I went to Norway to Sogndal.
MM:How do you compare these 3 leagues?
NS: The Swedish league was good. The Norwegian league was rough. They like players who keep running and playing hard. It was like rugby, elbowing and kicks, everything. The Israeli league was more skill and short passes. They play fast too. So, I would say the Swedish league was the best.
MM:And how do they compare to the NPL?
NS: They play quicker.
MM: Is the coaching a lot better?
NS: A lot better. And they are more professional.
MM: What about the infrastructure?
NS: Ha, ha! Through the roof! Every team has a training field and a match field. When I was in Israel you'd think the field was the national stadium when it was just the club's grounds. And the fan support - every day training was like a match.
MM: So how were you received in those countries?
NS: Good, especially in Israel. They love me like a king. People were always at the hotel seeking autographs. In Sweden, the same. Norway, it wasn't that much because I was in the country. There weren't too many fans there. I was kinda lonely there.
MM: Are you looking to go away again?
NS: Yeah. Actually, the manager at Village United is looking about a Malaysia deal.
MM: You'd be able to go to a place like Malaysia and adjust?
NS: Yes, I did it in Israel. It's a job. You can cook your own food. I think Ian McAnuff and Teofore Bennett were there.
MM: Wasn't Jermaine Tuffy Anderson there on trial? I think he came back home because of the food or something?
NS: I'm from Jamaica. Yuh done know - if yuh cyan cook something wrong!
MM: Let's deal with the local scene. You had as national coaches Jackie Walters, Carl Brown and Wendell Downswell - I'm not going to ask you to compare them. No one would want to answer that question and I probably would never get an honest answer anyway - what do you think they would need to get to the next levels that you've experienced abroad? Do you think it's just a matter of getting a particular licence?
NS: That's one thing.
MM: Well, do you think if they spend some time at these professional clubs it would make a difference?
NS: Yes, also if they get good facilities and everything they want for football, so they can just focus on football.
MM: You said 'focus on football.' So, do you think that our coaches have other distractions?
NS: Yes. Some are personal distractions.
MM: What would you say are your strongest points as a striker?
NS: Heading, dealing with corners.
MM: What would you say could be improved?
NS: Some coaches always say I don't move much. I don't see that though. When I'm overseas, they always use me as a target man, so I don't do much running. When I was in Sweden, the coach used to tell me, 'You stay here in front of the goal. I remember one match, I broke to the outside. The coach said, 'What, you crazy? You have energy to waste? This is where I want you!'
The other day, in the Village United tour of the USA, we played against Charleston. I scored in the 2-1 loss to them. The Charleston coach said he'd love for me to be in hi steam, but it's late for registration. I can expect a call from him any time soon, but once I'm in his team, I can't move. I'm to stay right there in the middle - hold up the ball, hand off, that's all they want me to do. I have no problem with that.
MM: Who are your role models in football?
NS: First and foremost, the biggest one is Valderrama.
MM: What do you like about him?
NS: He's just cool when he's playing and he can pass the ball over. I love a passer. I'm a striker, so I like a good passer. Ronaldinho, Henry, Michael Owen are my other role models.
MM: What English team do you like?
NS: Arsenal and Liverpool.
MM: Which local players do you like? Past and present.
NS: I liked Peter Cargill and Cobra (Barrington Gaynor). Kevin Lamey plays well. At Harbour View FC, when Jermaine Hue was there, he was the biggest one. A few players at Village - Troy Smith, the left fullback, who was invited to the national U-23 the other day, and Fabian Dawkins.
MM: If you were to pick a side for the England game what would it be?
NS: I can't pick that. I would be involved though. I think they are going to go for the overseas players.
MM: Well, what do you think? Should they go for the overseas players?
NS: I think they should mix it. It would be tough to pick a side though.
MM: You played recently in that USA game. Tell me about that. What is a tough game? You think we lost a good chance to finally beat them, or were we lucky to draw with them?
NS: They were lucky to draw with us! We could have beaten them. There are a few little things that we did that cost us the game. Me personally, I went on the game as a substitute. I believe I deserve a chance to play a full game, because it seems every time I play with the national team I am a substitute and I am always under a lot of pressure.
MM: To catch the rhythm of the game?
NS: Yes, and they expect me to just go out there and work magic or something. Like in the USA game, I went on, the coach wanted me to play more defensive. So, I said okay, I have no problem with that.
MM: What was the problem with the goalkeeper, Donovan Ricketts?
NS: I don't know what to say.
MM: Did he say anything after the game to anybody? Did anybody say anything to him?
NS: I didn't hear anything.
MM: Because that was a very forgettable evening for him.
NS: A few people were saying the reason why I got knocked out in that game - I was back defending and a ball came across. Everybody thought that the keeper was going to come and get it, but I didn't see him, so I jumped and I don't what happened behind me but I just found myself on the ground.
MM: You were knocked out?
NS: Knocked out cold. Couldn't open my eyes.
MM: What are your long term goals in football?
NS: Playing professionally again. Playing against the big stars in the game
MM: So you are talking about playing in the best leagues in the world?
NS: Yeah, I will be there, sometime soon.
MM: What would you say are the two main differences between how the coaches approach the game abroad when compared to our local coaches?
NS: Over here, they need to stamp their authority some more. Overseas, you can't be one minute late. Players turn up two hours ahead of training. And the way the coaches approach training - out here, some coaches do it, but not all - over there, if you make a mistake, the coach stops the game, talks about whatever you did, and they rewind the play and you repeat it until you get it right. If you have to spend the whole evening on it, then that's what you do. That's what I like about them.
MM: Do you think your game has improved from playing in a professional environment?
NS: Every time I go overseas and come back here I can feel and see the difference. I am sharper, sharper than the other players, scoring goals.
MM: It seemed to have made a difference to Fabian Dawkins.
NS: Yes, they say I played a big role in many of the goals he scored. I was the target man so they would hit me and I would nod off to him.
MM: Any predictions for the England game?
NS: I always say, don't count the chickens before they are hatched, but I think we should do fairly well.
MM: Now that Rooney isn't there?
NS: We have defenders, right?
MM: Okay, that brings us to the end of the interview. I just want to thank you again on behalf of the RBSC. We wish you all the best in your career. We know you have only recently begun to feature in the Wendell's plans, so hopefully this interview will get us to watch you even more closely. Thanks again.
NS: You're welcome. My pleasure.