Gregory Richardson home after sizzling season in USL division-one league
Set for Scotland try out in January
By Franklin Wilson
Guyana’s first player to ever play Major League football in the United States of America, Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson has described his debut season as a great learning experience and is anticipating an even greater 2010.
Speaking with Kaieteur Sport, Richardson, whose season in the USA started at Colorado Rapids in March 2009, disclosed that things did not go the way he anticipated where he found himself on the bench most of the time despite scoring in many of the team’s practice games.
“I played one Major League game against Chivas USA for about 15 minutes but that apart, I was on the bench. It was very frustrating for me on the bench because all I know and love is to play football.”
Richardson, whose local club is Pele, was eventually waived to USL Division One side Carolina RailHawks and this is where he started to unleash his talent on opposing teams. In his first three games with the RailHawks Richardson blasted five goals including a hat-trick in his second game. In his first week, he was named the USL players of the week and also Player of the Month.
The RailHawks ended the season as the runner up team but Richardson, who joined the club in mid season, copped the best offensive player award ending with 8 goals from 11 games. He has impressed so much that he is now in line for a try out in Scotland in January.
The young Guyanese player who has grown and matured to a different level said many fans felt he was from Trinidad and Tobago where he played with Joe Public before moving on to the USA. But he was quick to let them know he was from Guyana.
“I was pleasantly surprised when these fans began to buy Guyana flags and would wave it during games when the team played. I felt great about this, the Stadium is Guyanese now.”
Despite the fact that the start of the season did not go the way he envisaged, Richardson said he did his best. “I did not win a championship but I did my best. I won a number of individual accolades including the player of the week and month and best offensive player. The coach and everybody get to know that I can play.”
The humble Richardson noted that he would love for his coaches to come here to see that there are other players with talent.
While home Richardson intends to see his club side Pele return to the top of their game, he said he would always keep in touch with Club President Carey Jacques and would be depressed with news that they were always losing.
“I am back to make things right, I am not a magic man but I am here to help out Pele to bring them back to the top. I have been talking with my teammates to let them know that the game is not hard but they have to think and work hard. It’s not what you know; it’s what you have to do when on the field of play.”
Club President Carey Jacques who has been in constant contact with Richardson said he is very proud of him and his exploits.
“I have seen and witnessed the whole transformation of Gregory Richardson, he is more responsible and has a better understanding of his role as a player and now even coming back home as a leader of the team.”
Jacques, himself a former National player noted that in sharing the losses that Pele suffered on the field with Richardson, he would give him technical and tactical advice that they tried.
“Lo and behold we won our last four games. It was kind of tough to convince the coach to try the system that Gregory recommended but we tried it and it worked. So it shows that he is not the Richardson of old, he is not the ‘Jackie Chan’ that we knew, he has now grown way beyond that and has a better understanding of the sport and the game, understands his role as a player in a team and now as a leader and this augurs well for Guyana’s football.”
Jacques noted that Richardson understands that he is a role model and inspiration to every young footballer in Guyana.
“Speaking to his teammates over the last few days and letting them know that where he is they can be he has opened the door for all the young footballers in Guyana. I admire his transformation and how far he has come in such a short period of time. So we at Pele wish him all the best and we will continue to support him.
Richardson is expected to play with Pele while home in the NAMILCO Championship and the 20th Kashif & Shanghai Football Festival. Pele, are the defending champions.