FORMER Town favourite Fitzroy Simpson believes his son Jake’s experiences with Jamaica Under 20s have helped turn him from a boy into a man.
The Swindon Town youth team player was with the young Reggae Boyz last weekend for their U20 World Cup qualifier with Cuba, which ended 0-0 to send Jamaica top of their group.
Simpson, who made more than 100 appearances for Town after coming through the youth team, believes his 17-year-old son has coped well with the step-up to international football.
“He’s had a great experience in Jamaica as they reached the final stages, and he then goes to Brazil in December and then Mexico in February,” he said.
“His quote to me was that it was an experience of a lifetime, to be 17 playing in the under 20s in the World Cup qualifiers is what dreams are made of.
“It’s life experience as well. Personally, I think he’s gone over there as a young man to a real man. It’s a harsh environment, you must understand, but it’s an experience from which he’s come back buzzing.
“I was questioning whether he could adapt because they’re very physical, very technical and they play the Brazilian way. That’s what their philosophy is in Jamaica, from the youngest age group upwards.
“It’s very technical, very fast, imaginative, creative and to be fair it took him two days to adapt and the coaches were ecstatic.
“Behind the scenes they were overjoyed with his technical ability, his determination and his professionalism – because that’s the biggest thing in Jamaica.”
The younger Simpson rushed back from international duty to play in Town’s 6-1 FA Youth Cup victory over Cirencester on Tuesday night, and his father believes he is in the best place to learn his trade.
“It’s testament to himself that he arrived on Monday at nine o’clock and he was at Wanborough training ground for 12,” he said.
“It’s really good. He’s come off the plane and I knew he’d be jetlagged but he said ‘I’m going to training’.
“I wasn’t going to complain. I’m very proud, his mother’s very proud and his grandfather, who’s watched him since he was two weeks old when we gave him his first ball, is very proud.
“He said he wants to play football, he said he’s got a great debt to Jeremy Newton and Paul Bodin in helping him develop so far and obviously he’s gone to a much higher level now.
“The professionalism is sometimes to be questioned but he was always on point and that’s got to come from where he’s learnt his trade.
“Since he was six years old he’s been with Swindon and it does bode well for what we’re trying to do. The boys are standing up on the international level.”