Gold Cup Q&A: Junior Hoillett (Cardiff City & Canada)
Canada’s Junior Hoilett (red jersey) scored one goal in four games at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: AFP Services)

Earlier this month, Junior Hoilett competed in the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time, scoring one goal in helping Canada advance past the group stage for the first time since 2009.  The 27-year-old midfielder – currently on the roster Cardiff City in the English Championship – made his international debut in a 1-1 draw with Ghana in October 2015.  He also has netted 14 career goals in English Premier League play during spells with Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers.  Hoilett took some time to speak to about his footballing career.

How old were you when you first started to play football?
I started when I was very young before my teenage years.  However, it was when I was 13 that Blackburn Rovers took me into their academy and eventually gave me opportunities to play in the English Premier League.  I will always be grateful for that.

Would you say Blackburn Rovers were key in your development as a player?
Absolutely.  I went from an academy player to a first team player, so they truly gave me the chance of professional football.  I had loan spells in Germany, but with Blackburn it was a great experience playing with them.  It helped me to be a balanced and well-grounded player.

In 2012, you were courted by both Jamaica and England to play for them.  What was your thought processes during that time?
When I joined Queens Park Rangers in the 2012-13 season, I was simply just focused on playing club football and establishing myself in the first team.  It was a new club, new environment and I wanted to settle before deciding my international future.

You went on to make your debut for Canada in 2015.  What did that mean to you?
To represent the country of your birth is a wonderful feeling.  I feel glad and honored to play for my country.  It is an experience I enjoy doing and it provides precious moments that I will never forget.

You scored against Jamaica in the Gold Cup quarterfinals last week.  How did you feel about that knowing you have Jamaican roots?
Mixed feelings I would say.  Jamaica is the land of my father and other relatives.  At that time I scored, I was just focused on trying to get an equalizer after that.  I wasn’t focused on celebrating.

Now with Canada eliminated from the tournament, do you see a bright future for the team?
I see great things from this team.  It is a young team, with a mixture of experience.  I believe the talent is there, so once we can execute our chances then the future is bright for Canada and for Canadian soccer. We will use all these experiences to develop mental strength.