Why England need to get their skates on and tie up Leon Bailey

Have you heard of Leon Bailey? If not, he’s the Jamaican-born left winger tearing it up in the Bundesliga.

After winning Young Player of the Year and getting in the Europa League team of the group stages while representing Genk, also winning goal of the tournament in that same Europa League campaign, Bailey was snapped up by Leverkusen in January 2017.

Considering their signing a major coup, with Bailey on the watch lists of tops sides across Europe, their new man took a little while to bed in, but this season has been in exceptional form.

So far Bailey has scored 9 goals to go alongside 5 assists and in a recent game against Hoffenheim scored with a back heel that Thierry Henry circa 2004 would have been mighty proud of.

Naturally, the big clubs are circling and Bailey has made it clear that he harbours the intention of playing on a wet Monday night against Stoke, aka he wants to play in the Premier League.

Chelsea have reportedly already begun negotiations, although sources close to the player suggest he dreams of a move to United. Liverpool and Arsenal also hold interest in a player who it seems is destined for a special career.

And with that in mind, imagine the shock, surprise and sheer delirium that England fans felt when it was unveiled by The Daily Mirror that Bailey is in fact, eligible to play for England, as he has yet to be called up for the Jamaican senior team and two of his grandparents hold British passports.

The news raises two questions.

The first being, how have Jamaica not secured Bailey for the national side? You would hope that it is a case of trying and failing, rather than failing to try since he is clearly such a talented player.

The second is, if his grandparents hold British passports, could he opt to play for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland? What I would give to see him lead Alex McLeish’s Scotland side to the World Cup Qualification playoffs before losing to Sweden.

But whatever the answer to those two questions, it looks like England are in a position to potentially add one of Europe’s finest attacking prospects their squad just in time to fail to get out of the group at the World Cup in just 3 short months’ time.

One factor in our favour is that Bailey is reportedly good friends with Raheem Sterling, who himself was born in Jamaica before moving to England aged 5.

And should Bailey opt for England he would fit straight into Gareth Southgate’s attack which would presumably see Raheem Sterling and Bailey playing either side of Dele Alli in behind Harry Kane, with Marcus Rashford on the bench bemoaning how Alexis Sanchez has totally ruined his career.

Let’s face it, we all love to have a pop at the German’s for building a side out of the best of Polish/Turkish talent, but when it’s your country that stands to gain, it’s a completely different question.

What’s more, we are the country whose rugby team is 12.5% Tongan and whose cricket team is more likely to call recollect childhood memories on the beaches of Cape Town than being dragged round Kwiksave by their mum.

Furthermore, having failed to convince Wilfried Zaha to pledge his allegiance to the Three Lions, bringing Leon Bailey into the mix would be a nice little confidence boost for England as a footballing country. It would also suggest that the FA aren’t totally inept in the wake of the Allardyce, Sampson and Neville sagas.

So, let’s get behind it and let’s get it done.

Leon Bailey is fast, furious and he has an eye for goal and he would definitely make England better. Does the lad know anything about his (hopefully) soon to be adopted nation? I have no idea. But with Belgium also in the mix for his allegiance I say let’s just get him on the plane.

Once he’s safe and securely English we can give him all the Only Fools and Horses, cups of Bovril and blocks of Red Leicester that he can handle.


Written by Scott Pope

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