Jason Roberts of Blackburn Rovers is undoubtedly Grenada's most famous footballer. Born in England to a Grenadian father and a Guyanese mother, the powerhouse striker rarely turns down a chance to line up for the Spice Boyz in competitive matches and has amassed over 25 caps and 12 goals since making his debut at age 19.
This week, the brawny Roberts joins up with Grenada for his second consecutive go-around in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, far, far away from the glitz and glamour of the English Premier League.
Fresh off the plane from chilly Blackburn, the 30-year-old took a few minutes to chat with FIFA.com about Grenada's preparations for their one-off qualifier against the US Virgin Islands on Wednesday, the differences between English and Caribbean football and just what it means to help a small side hunt a first-ever place at the world finals.
FIFA.com: You must be pleased to arrive in the Caribbean and get some sun on your back ahead of Wednesday's game? I imagine it's still pretty cold in Blackburn.
Jason Roberts: You bet! It's good to get some nice weather down here. It's still fairly cold over in England even though spring has arrived. The sun is shining here and the preparations are going well for us in Grenada.
I know you've only just arrived, but how are things shaping up after your first practice with the Grenadian team?
I had my first training session with the team this morning and I'm impressed with the look of the squad. There are some fine players in this squad like Shalrie Jospeh [New England Revolution in MLS] and Byron Bubb [Farnborough in England]. I think a lot of people in England would be surprised by the quality of football we have down here in the Caribbean.
*Instead of Manchester United, Chelsea or some other Premier League giant, you will be playing the modest US Virgin Islands on Wednesday at home in St George's. Do you prepare differently for this type of game? * You don't approach a game in the Caribbean differently than any other game, no matter who the opponent might be. The way I think about it, I have to mentally prepare the same way for every game. If I don't go out with the right mindset I would be doing a disservice to my national team and that's not something I want to do.
But surely the brand of football you can expect to find here in the Caribbean will be different from back in England.
Sure, the style of play is a little bit different on the islands than it is back in the Premiership, but that's part of the challenge and part of the fun. I need to adjust and bring my strengths into the game on Wednesday to help Grenada make a mark.
*You played with Grenada in the qualifying stages for Germany 2006, where you lost to the USA. Do you expect things to be different this time around? * Last time, we lost out over two legs to the USA. Now, though, we are hoping to get things together and make a decent go of it. Like I said, we have some good talent and we'll be hoping to make the most of it.
Did you get any kind of scouting report on the US Virgin Islands?
To be honest, I don't know too much about them, but we just need to focus on this game. If we don't, and if we don't keep respect for them, we could find ourselves in big trouble. After all, this is a one-off game with big consequences. If we win, we go on. If we lose, we go home.