Emotional Butler slams JFF, Schaefer

October 01, 2016
Craig Butler (co-founder, Phoenix Football Academy).
Bailey in a photograph taken at The Gleaner in early 2015.
Genk's Leon Bailey

Craig Butler, co-founder, Phoenix Football Academy, celebrated Leon Bailey's nomination for a prestigious UEFA Golden Boy award while criticising the national selection policy of outgoing coach Winfried Schaefer.

Bailey, who is 19, has rocketed to the top of European football, to a level where few Jamaicans before him could have dreamt about.

He has been named one of European football's most prized youngsters. His nomination on the 40-man shortlist for the Golden Boy award makes him one of the most impressive Under-21 players on the continent.

The UEFA Golden Boy nomination award is presented by sports journalists to the most impressive young footballer in Europe and has been won by the likes of five-time FIFA World player of the year Lionel Messi and other outstanding footballers like Manchester United's Paul Pogba.

"Phoenix ... look at this. Leon is top in attempts on goal and top in goals with the likes of Francesco Totti," Butler posted on his Facebook page yesterday.

He noted: "Nice and very appropriate articles on the same page of The Gleaner ... do you know who I am now Mr Schaefer? Now let's talk about serious football JFF and winning a World Cup," he questioned of Jamaica's football programme.

Butler is the adopted father of Bailey and manages him at his Phoenix Academy, which has a base here in Jamaica. He is the biological father of Kyle, another impressive footballer who plays in the Genk system. Bailey, meanwhile, is yet to be capped by Jamaica's senior team despite attracting interest from a number of top European clubs recently.

"My son, I remember I was so hurt and angry at the Reggae Boyz for constantly saying my sons were no good, that my academy was nothing, trying to hide who we were and how talented our players were and where my heart was," Butler reasoned.

An emotional Butler wrote: "I fought and fought to get us here you and Kyle," adding: "thank you, sons, for making me so proud. I will protect you with my life forever."

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