Neil Danns will forever be a part of Guyana’s footballing history. When he smashed home a penalty against Panama this past Saturday in Cleveland, he scored the first ever goal for the national team at a major tournament.
Guyana ultimately lost the match 4-2, with Danns scoring another penalty in the final moments.
The result, combined with last Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the United States, eliminated the Concacaf Gold Cup debutants from contention for the quarterfinals.
It was quite fitting though for Danns to score that historic first goal against Panama. He is a true veteran leader within this Guyana team.
A 36-year-old Premier League and Championship veteran originally from Toxteth, Liverpool, England, Danns was eligible to play for Guyana through his grandfather. He was a major part of a 2015 shift in the federation that sought out potential national team call-ups of players based in England, a group that now includes his younger cousin and fellow Liverpudlian, 18-year-old Stephen Duke-McKenna.
The individual achievement of the goal is taken with a grain of salt by Danns. Since joining the squad four years ago, he has been focused solely on advancing as a collective, and he views this 2019 Gold Cup as a crowning achievement in that regard.
“We’ve shown a lot of people who we are,” Danns said. “We’ve shown that we can mix it up with top talents.”
Danns, whose father and uncle were both involved in the Liverpool music scene of the 1970s and 1980s, and who has musical aspirations of his own, spoke of his desire for Guyana to be a mainstay at major competitions.
“I don’t want us to be a one hit wonder,” Danns said. “This is just the beginning for this national team.”