Montserrat ready to send shockwaves through soccer world: Captain Taylor

Montserrat soccer Captain, Lyle Taylor.
Action Images/Adam Holt, file

Perhaps, it is a score line lost in the deluge of FIFA World Cup qualifying results and storylines from the past week. But it is by far one of the most significant results of the 108 qualifiers that were played in the past week, when Montserrat drew 1-1 with powerhouse EL Salvador, according to FIFA.com.

It said, on April 1, that Montserrat, an island with a population hovering just around 5,000 and ranked 183rd in the world, “punched above their weight on two occasions.”

First, it said, they drew 2-2 with Antigua and Barbuda on March 24, a team 57 places above them on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

“But the real headliner was to come four days later in Willemstad, on the island of Curaçao,” FIFA.com said.

Trailing 1-0 in the 89th minute against El Salvador — a nation who have featured at two World Cups and sit 113 places above them — it said Lyle Taylor “fulfilled his role as the team’s talisman and delivered in the crucial moment, just as he had done by scoring both goals against Antigua.

“Timing his run to perfection, Taylor latched onto Jamie Allen’s cross and headed in the equalizer,” FIFA.com said.

After two heartbreaking defeats to El Salvador in the CONCACAF Nations League — Taylor was unable to play on both occasions — “the third time was, indeed, the charm.”

FIFA.com said the celebrations were fitting of a World Cup Final.

“And even better, his young brother Joey, who he seldom gets to play alongside his sibling, was on the pitch when for the decisive goal,” it said.

As the 70th-ranked team in the world, El Salvador is the highest-ranked side Montserrat have ever drawn against, and by some distance, FIFA.com said.

It said Curaçao were ranked 159th when they drew in Russia 2018 qualifiers, and Antigua are currently 126th.

FIFA.com caught up with Montserrat’s man of the hour, who was back in Nottingham fresh off a cross-Pacific flight from Curacao via an eight-hour layover in Amsterdam, to put the achievement into context and to learn where their ambitions lie next.

When asked “this past week of World Cup qualifying must be up there in terms of career highlights for you, is that right, Taylor responded: “It’s definitely up there.

“I’ve been at the training ground at Nottingham Forest, and everyone’s been asking me how it was, and it’s just so different from my day-to-day footballing job,” he said. “I get to play with my brother and with, I call them ‘brothers’.

“We are a family,” Taylor added. “The majority of the group have been together for about six years. It’s definitely special.

“I’ve played in front of some big crowds at Wembley, and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, but there is nothing like playing with family; and we are all a family in the national team,” he continued. “To pick up a point against an El Salvador team, that, really, we have no right to be going toe-to-toe with, is massive.

“To do it the day before my birthday was a perfect storm,” Taylor said. “And I’m so thankful that six years ago I accepted the call to be a part of this. To be able to go out there, stand toe-to-toe and give away a poor goal by our standards, and to dominate the second half as we did is just amazing. It’s a taste of their own medicine to them because of what they’ve done to us previously. It’s massive to get that result, but there’s more. The next time we play, we will be winning.”

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