ST. PETERSBURGH, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper Nico Campbell has always dreamed of playing for the Jamaican mens’ national soccer team, and now believes he’s closer than ever to realizing it.
Campbell, who played at Valparaiso University in Indiana from 2013 to 2016 before signing with the Rowdies on Feb. 10, appeared in two matches for Jamaica in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico against Japan and Argentina.
The Kingston, Jamaica, native said representing his country in international competition while still in his teens was one of the great thrills of his life.
“As a younger kid, playing in the
under-17 World Cup was a dream come true,” Campbell said, following Rowdies practice on Thursday. “And the experience was great.
“It’s the highest level at that age group, so it was awesome to be a part of that elite group.”
While most players stick with one position from an early age, Campbell didn’t start playing goal full-time until high school, where he captained the St. George’s College soccer team.
“I actually started being a goalkeeper pretty late,” Campbell said. “The reason I started goalkeeping, I was at my high school, and the original goalkeeper there got injured and I went in the goal and made a lot of good saves and everyone thought I had the ability to do it.
“And when the season started I was the one in goal and from there I just never looked back.”
A fierce competitor, Campbell is confident he can handle the immense pressures of being the starting goalkeeper for Jamaica.
“It’s a lot of weight on your back to represent your nation, but if you love the sport, you’re willing to take on the responsibility. As long as I work hard and stay focussed, I think I have the ability to do it. If I keep working hard it could be another dream true.”