IN 2016, with the aim of helping Guyana to qualify for the 2017 Gold Cup, captain Samuel Cox, made a bold choice to represent Gold Jaguars over his club (at the time) Boreham Wood FC – a move for which he was chastised, and later fired by head coach Luke Garrad, who said the Guyanese captain was selfish in wanting to play for the Gold Arrowhead instead of his employers.Boreham Wood Football Club competes in the National League of English football – the fifth tier – and Cox has made a total of 122 appearances for the club, with his longest stint being 2013-2016, after he was a year-long loan (2011-2012) from Barnet FC.Guyana came up a few goals shy of qualification, following their heart-breaking 2-4 defeat to Jamaica at the National Track and Field Centre. The Reggae Boyz would then go on to lose 1-2 in a nailbiter climax in the finals of the 2017 Gold Cup against the USA.Fast-forward two years later – March 23 to be exact – Cox was once again tasked with captaining the side against Belize in a crucial final match in the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier.Robust defending by the 28-year-old England-based player, along with an almost perfect performance by the rest of the cast, and goals from Neil Danns and Emery Welshman, saw Guyana win 2-1 and booked their place at the June 15-July 7 Gold Cup.“If you knew my story, you would know why this moment means so much to me. This one wasn’t only for the people of Guyana … this was for everyone who’s ever stood up for something they believed in,” an emotional Cox reflected.He added: “In 2016, I lost my job at my club for choosing to represent my country. At the time people questioned me if I was making the right decision and since have asked if I regretted it … But I’ve always put my trust in God’s plan.”According to Cox, captaining Guyana to the country’s first major tournament and qualifying for the Gold Cup has proved that the decision he made in 2016 was the right one.“It was hard to see it then, but I had to remember that God was directing my steps the whole time. Sometimes you need to be bold, stand up for what you believe in, and step into the unknown … Because that’s where miracles happen. Never give up on your dream,” the Golden Jaguars captain profoundly proclaimed.Meanwhile, Cox completed his Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) A-level Licences programme last year as he prepares for life after his playing career.Also, last November, Golden Jaguars skipper picked up the ‘Ones to Watch’ Award at the annual ‘The Football Black List’.The prestigious Ones to Watch award, named after former Aston Villa defender and Tottenham Hotspurs U-23 coach Ugo Ehiogu, who collapsed and died from cardiac arrest at the ‘Spurs’ training ground last year, seeks to recognise footballers aged under 30 years, whose current activities look set to springboard them onto even greater accomplishments in the near future.
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