Jamaica’s Phillips ready for more challenges

Jamaica international Demar Phillips (yellow jersey) signed with the USA's Real Salt Lake on January 23, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)

MIAMI, Florida --- In a career highlighted by unique footballing experiences, Jamaica wingback Demar Phillips still has more to achieve.

At 31-years-old, the veteran continues to flourish and agreed to terms recently that will set him on a path to new horizons.

Having spent the last six years with Aalesunds FK, helping it to a pair of Norwegian Cup crowns (2009, 2011) and three straight appearances in the UEFA Europa League (2010-2012), Phillips traded continents and signed a one-year deal with the USA’s Real Salt Lake.

“I think the move was right at this time and will be better for me as you know in football you can’t stay one place forever,” he said.

But that’s not all.

Phillips, who initially caught the eyes of foreign clubs as a member of Jamaican outfit Waterhouse FC and the under-23 national team, has his sights set on playing in this year’s Copa America (June 11-July 4) and the Gold Cup (July 7-26).

Jamaica is an invited guest to the storied South American championship, while it gained automatic qualification to the CONCACAF event by reaching the final of the 2014 Caribbean Cup, an event it hosted and won.

“I am looking forward to it (Copa America) so much because I missed out on playing in the World Cup, so this is like a make up for the World Cup, so it’s very important for me at the age I am at,” Phillips expressed.  “I am just looking forward to the Copa America and the Gold Cup, so I have a lot of football to look forward to.”

Meanwhile, Phillips reflected on his role in Jamaica’s drive to the top of the Caribbean.

“I played in two games,” the former Stoke City player noted.  “I played in the first game and the team was not having a good game as we were trying to get used to the pitch, but for my personal game I thought I did well in the first game, especially in the second half.

“And in the final, I came on with about 15 or 20 minutes to go and I gave the team a boost, and forced extra time and I also scored my penalty during the shootout, so I think I did my best.”

Jamaica outlasted archrival Trinidad & Tobago 4-3 on penalties after the sides failed to score in regulation and extra time.

An industrious left-sided asset, Phillips took particular joy in being a part of a championship team that ultimately helped to rebuild his country’s image as it languished at 113th in the FIFA rankings coming into the competition.  Jamaica is now ranked 75th.

“It’s always good to be a champion and, yes, the team was down and our ranking was really bad, but we had belief in ourselves that we could go out there and stick together and win the tournament,” he finished.