CONCACAF Q&A: Giles Barnes (Orlando City SC & Jamaica)

Giles Barnes is a dynamic and attacking force in the region.  The 28-year-old forward is best remembered for helping Jamaica to a 2-1 win over the United States in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.  The former Derby County and current Orlando City SC player took some time to speak to about his career and future plans.

How old were you when you first started to play football?

For along as I can remember, I have always played football.  The first time I was with a professional club was the age of eight, when I signed for Chelsea FC Academy.

Growing up, did you have any footballing heroes?

There is only one for me and he still remains, in my opinion, the world’s greatest-ever player and that is R9…the Brazilian Ronaldo.

In 2005, you made your debut as a professional with Derby County.  How key was that club in your development as a player?

Derby was great for me, for the opportunity to actually play as they pushed youngsters through at that time and you don’t find that too much now in the new era.  I was training with the first team squad from the age of 15 and was traveling with them for over a year, learning all the horrible bits of football, cleaning boots, picking up kits, making tea.  I think that is partly missing in football now…the discipline…but, yes, in answer to the question Derby was great for my development.

What did it feel like in 2006, when you were part of the England U-19 set up as a 17- and 18-year-old?

This is always a weird one for me.  It was more of a recognition thing.  It was weird.  I had been playing first-team football for over two years and never got picked to play for England, so for me it was just one to tick off the list.  It was never ‘oh wow, I play for England’.  Jamaica was always my first love.

You made your debut for Jamaica in 2015, scoring in a 2-1 win over Venezuela at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.  What were you emotions?

Completely different than the last question.  I grew up in a Jamaican household and was raised that way.  For me to play and represent my country, Jamaica, hear the national anthem and to get to do it in Jamaica in front of my parents, it’s a moment that will never be taken away from me.  You add in the fact I scored, it’s a fairy tale.

You also scored to beat the United States and take Jamaica to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.  Would you say this was your best moment internationally?

It was a great moment…yes, probably the most decisive moment, but it wasn’t the proudest moment.  That would have to still be my debut for Jamaica.

You have played club football in Canada, England and the USA.  How do you compare MLS football to football in England?

It’s growing every year.  The Premier League for me is still the best in the world and I was lucky enough to play in that, but there, in my opinion, is no difference between MLS and other top leagues around Europe.  MLS is a growing league and getting much more competitive.

You are now with Orlando City SC. How are you enjoying your football there so far?

Orlando has been amazing.  I had to leave Vancouver due to the turf and this has also held me back playing for Jamaica in away games due to the artificial surface.  But my teammates, the fans, the new stadium and the staff have been phenomenal.  I have nothing but praise for everyone connected to this amazing franchise.

What advice do you have for young people who want to play football professionally?

You have to be dedicated, have a passion and fire and that burn in your belly to want to succeed.  It’s not easy and you have to have fun with it.

Outside of football, what do you like to do for fun?

Outside of football, I listen to a lot of music, typically Reggae and R&B.  That’s how I unwind.  I also have a passion for photography.