Soccer in Jamaica goes way back to 1893, with the Jamaican Football Federation being founded in 1910. It wasn’t until 1965, after the country proclaimed their independence, that Jamaica did not make an attempt to qualify for a FIFA World Cup.
Brought to the island by the British colonialists, soccer has always been a passion in the Caribbean Island. Even the famous reggae singer Bob Marley was an avid soccer fan, and seeing boys playing the beautiful game on the streets is very common.
Jamaican players are known for their athleticism and strength on the ball. This list will feature many players from the 1998 World Cup team, the only time Jamaica qualified to the tournament, as well as players from various eras of the national team. Here are the top 25 Jamaican soccer players of all time.
25. Gil Heron
Gil Heron was a Jamaican soccer player in the 1950’s, he was a center forward who played in various leagues in the United States before being spotted by Glasgow Celtic while the Scottish club was on a North American tour. Heron was the first player of color to play for Celtic and one of the first to play in the Scottish League.
24. Allan Cole
Allan “Skill” Cole was a Jamaican soccer player who played in the old NASL with the Atlanta Chiefs and in Brazil with Náutico. Cole was a highly skilled player, known for his creativity on the ball, he was praised by many during his playing days. On a side note, he also co-wrote the song “War” with nonother than Bob Marley and was his tour manager. Allan is still the youngest player to represent the Reggae Boyz, earning his first cap at age 15.
23. Tyrone Marshall
Tyrone Marshall was a tough defender that played most of his career in Major League Soccer for various clubs. Marshall played in over 80 games for the Reggae Boyz and scored 5 goals and was on the team from 2000- 2010.
22. Wolde Harris
Wolde Harris was another player that benefited from MLS, having a strong career from 1997 – 2005. The quick and silky Harris played 28 times for Jamaica and scored 7 goals up top. Harris is now an assistant coach for the Colorado Rapids in MLS.
21. Paul Hall
Paul Hall was a striker that played for the Reggae Boyz in the 1998 World Cup. Hall played his entire career in England and represented Jamaica through his family ties. Hall played over 600 professional games and scored 138 goals. For Jamaica Hall scored 14 goals in 48 appearances.
20. Peter Cargill
Born and raised in Jamaica, Peter Cargill was a midfielder who represented the Reggae Boyz a total of 84 times and scored 3 goals. Cargill was a hard-nosed midfielder who played in Israel before returning to Jamaica and playing in the 1998 World Cup in France.
19. Paul Young
Paul Young might not have scored many goals in his club career, he certainly scored for Jamaica. The nation's fourth all-time leading scorer netted 22 goals in 49 games from 1989 – 1997.
18. Lindy Delapenha
Lindy Delapenha is a historical figure, he is the first Jamaican to play professionally in England. He played for Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Mansfield Town from 1948 to 1960, where he scored 93 goals in total during his time in England. After retirement he became a sports journalist in his native Jamaica, he died of a stroke at the age of 89.
17. Kemar Lawrence
Kemar Lawrence is a skilled left back that played in Jamaica, United States, Belgium, and currently in Canada for Toronto FC in MLS. Lawrence has been capped 60 times and scored 3 goals for the Reggae Boyz. He continues to be on the national team.
16. Andre Blake
Andre Blake is one of the best goalkeepers in Concacaf and one of the best in MLS. Blake has been with the Philadelphia Union his whole career since 2014 playing over 150 games for the Doops. Blake is also the unquestionable starter for the Jamaican national team and has earned 45 caps. A move to Europe continues to elude the talented shot stopper.
15. Robbie Earle
The hardworking midfielder, Robbie Earle played over 200 games for Wimbledon and Port Vale in England. He was one of 7 players born in England that chose to represent Jamaica and played in the 1998 World Cup. Earle scored over 100 goals in his career mostly in England, he would later move to broadcasting after his playing days were over.
14. Darren Mattocks
The quick and talented Darren Mattocks has been a figure for the Reggae Boyz since he busted on the scene in MLS. Mattocks has scored 18 times in 50 appearances for Jamaica, at the club level he played all of his career in MLS until 2021 where he moved to the unlikely destination of Sudan.
13. Donovan Ricketts
The Jamaican goalkeeper manded the nets for the Reggae Boyz for nearly 16 years. Ricketts earned 100 caps and played in England and the MLS, most notably for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Donovan Ricketts won 1 MLS Cup with the Galaxy and 2 Caribbean cups with Jamaica.
12. Deon Burton
Deon Burton was the face of the 1998 Jamaican World Cup team and had an extensive career in England playing for numerous clubs. He scored over 100 goals in 600 games in his career, Burton is known most for his play on the Jamaican national team and his time at Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday.
11. Warren Barrett
Warren Barrett was the starting goalkeeper and captain of the 1998 World Cup team and while he played his whole career in Jamaica, Barrett did earn 108 caps for the national team. Barrett was solid in goal and had one of the most unique jerseys of the 98 World Cup.
10. Andy Williams
Andy Williams is all CONCACAF, he was born in Canada, represented Jamaica, and played in MLS. The right midfielder was as steady as they came and always a leader and clutch player for any team he suited up for. In MLS he played for The Crew, Miami Fusion, New England Revolution, The MetroStars, Chicago Fire, and Real Salt Lake where he won 1 MLS Cup. Williams earned 97 caps for Jamaica, playing in the 1998 World Cup.
9. Frank Sinclair
Without question Frank Sinclair is one of the best Jamaican defenders of all-time. He played 8 seasons with Chelsea and won the FA Cup in 1997 and the old Cup Winners Cup the following season. While Sinclair was born in England, he chose to represent Jamaica and played in the 1998 World Cup.
8. Linval Dixon
Linval Dixon was another big defender for the Reggae Boyz and was a part of the 1998 World Cup team. Dixon played his whole career in Jamaica and earned over 120 caps for his country scoring 3 goals. Dixon is now coaching.
7. Leon Bailey
High on this list for his possible potential, Leon Bailey has been with Bayer Leverkusen since 2017 and has played in over 100 games. Bailey played for Genk before then, the speedy winger has established himself in Europe and has only been capped 8 times by Jamaica due to issues with the federation and is doubtful he may ever suit up for the national team again. Bailey’s talent cannot be denied.
6. Ricardo Gardner
Bibi as he is known was a menace on the left wing, playing in defense and offense, Ricardo Gardner has a long career for Bolton Wanderers and earned 111 caps for Jamaica.
5. Wes Morgan
Wes Morgan was a steady defender in England, most notably for Nottingham Forest and Leicester City where he played in over 350 and 270 games, respectively. At the international level Morgan played only 30 times for Jamaica. Morgan was a part of the Jamaica side that was runner up in the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2015 and Premier League champions with the Foxes.
4. Theodore Whitmore
Theodore Whitmore is synonymous with the Jamaican National Team, he played 124 games for his country scoring 24 goals. The tough midfielder born in Montego Bay, most notably played for Hull City in England. Whitmore after his retirement has been involved with the Jamaican national team in various coaching capacities since 2007.
3. Onandi Lowe
The big man from Kingston is the second leading goal scorer on the Jamaican national team, but at the club level he was much more effective than Luton Shelton. Onandi Lowe scored over 100 goals in his career most notably for Rushden & Diamonds in England. The big forward played in MLS, England, and his native Jamaica.
2. Ian Goodison
Ian Goodison was a rock at the back for the Reggae Boyz for 128 games scoring 10 goals. Goodison is the most capped player for Jamaica and had a long career in England.
1. Luton Shelton
Luton Shelton is the country's all-time leading goal scorer, striking 35 times in 75 caps for the Reggae Boyz. At the club level Shelton scored 85 goals in over 200 professional games in various countries winning 6 titles at the club and national team level. Unfortunately, Shelton had ALS and passed away from complications with the disease in January 2021, Shelton was only 35 years old.