'I have put in the hard work!'


'I have put in the hard work!'

Lawrence says his move to Belgian club Anderlecht was well deserved

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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Kemar Lawrence, the fiery wide player, says his dedication to high standards has helped to propel him into football's richest market — Europe.

The Reggae Boyz defender recently moved from long-time club New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer to storied Belgian club RSC Anderlecht for a reported fee of euro 1.25 million. The deal is to run over two and half years.

“I am really in a great market place where everybody is watching these games because the club that I am at is a big club in Europe and the biggest club in Belgium,” Lawrence told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.

The Jamaica left-back said his dream move into Europe is reward for his faith and commitment to the fundamentals.

“If you have been following my career you would know that I have put in the work, I have always tried to play to the highest level, I always try to maintain a certain character, a certain style of play,” he said.

The 27-year-old Lawrence, popularly called “Taxi”, says his immediate goal is to achieve optimum fitness, which is required for the demanding European game.

“My first goal is to get myself fit and try to get into the team and to hopefully make an impact…right now the team is ninth in the table, and watching the last game, I thought if I was in that line-up I could make an impact defensively and in attack, but first it's about being fit, and fit meaning being able to play 90 minutes and more.

“Right now my mindset is to play the best football for Anderlecht and try to help them get every three points they can get, and to show them that I really appreciate being here and to show that this is something I deserve and something I worked my whole life for, and something that God has built me for and given the opportunity to do,” he said.

He said the players, staff and fans have welcomed him with open arms.

“So far the energy has been very positive and everybody can't wait for me to be fit and get on the field and to start playing a couple of games…my teammates have welcomed me and so have the fans, the staff at the club have been great, so everybody is happy that I am here, it's just for me to get fit and ready to play,” Lawrence noted.

The former Rae Town FC player says he hopes to make the best of playing alongside player-manager, Belgian Vincent Kompany and Frenchman Samir Nasri.

“Growing up, these are the players you were watching at the World Cup or every week in the EPL [English Premier League] , and growing up you had a massive respect for them, so now playing alongside them, training with them as a younger player, in some way you have to feel happy, but for me it is also an opportunity to learn and grow and improve my game…with these players you will feel that you are playing with the best of the best,” Lawrence shared.

The Donald Quarrie High School graduate says he relishes the challenge of facing Boyz teammate Shamar Nicholson, who plays for Charleroi FC.

“First of all I want like to say he doesn't want to face me, but fun and joke aside he is doing great and he is trying to make moves and he's trying to score as many goals as possible so he can make a bigger move…he is a young player, but his game is so mature, and I saw him the other night and we were just talking about football, and the way he was speaking, you could see the maturity and you could see where he wants to go.

“You could see his vision, so it says a lot about Jamaican players and I think more Jamaican players can be in this league too because it's not lack of talent, lack of hard work or a lack of discipline, it's a lack of opportunity,” Lawrence went on.

The nippy player says he is looking forward to living another dream of playing European football, but he intends to take his progress at the Belgian club one step at a time.

“It's something I have dreamt about, but at the same time we have to get to that bridge before we can cross it…as a club we have get into position and finish the season strong, so we can qualify for Champions League or Europa. It is something that I have dreamt about and something I definitely see it happening,” he said of possibly playing in the continent's biggest club competitions.

Lawrence admitted that leaving Red Bulls, which he has called home since 2015 until his recent departure, was not easy.

“It's always difficult for a man to leave his home, to leave his family behind, friends, and when I went to Red Bulls I made a new family, I got new friends, I met new people who encouraged and motivated me, and people who inspired me to be better as a father, so it was a very hard decision.

“But at the end of the day, in my mind it was clear that I needed to play with the best and I want to be the best left-back I can be, and that means I have to play against the best and in the top leagues.

“So while the decision was hard, I knew that I had little choice because my dream was always to play in Europe, and I finally had the opportunity to fulfil that dream and I was not going to shy away from the opportunity and the challenge,” he stated.

Lawrence, who missed the Reggae Boyz final two Concacaf Nations League matches against Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda towards the end of 2019, said he is looking forward to playing his part as Jamaica attempt to qualify for Qatar 2022.

“I do see myself playing in the World Cup qualifiers as these are need-to-win games and the coach made it clear that for every game he will not need every player…the coach knows what I can do, the coach knows what kind of player I am, the coach knows when he needs me and when he doesn't…my mindset is to be ready for the qualifiers and onwards,” Lawrence ended.

— Sean Williams

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