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INTERVIEW | Keanu Marsh-Brown reflects on helping Guyana qualify for the 2019 Gold Cup

28 March 2019

Making his international debut was an honour and up there with the best moments in his life, according to Exiles winger Keanu Marsh-Brown.

On Saturday, Marsh-Brown started his first game for Guyana as they secured a first ever place in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup with a crucial 2-1 qualifying victory over Belize.

Instrumental in most of the positive attacking play from former Derby County defender Michael Johnson’s side, Marsh-Brown certainly made an impact on the international stage by getting the assist for Emery Welshman’s matchwinner.

Upon returning to training at Newport County AFC, Marsh-Brown spoke of the experience exclusively to iFollow Exiles.  

 

Well Keanu, it was some international debut for you last weekend. Helping Guyana qualify for the Gold Cup, getting the assist for the matchwinner against Belize and certainly announcing yourself on the international stage.

Can you sum up your feelings of the whole experience?

"To go away with the national team was an honour for me.

"It’s probably the proudest moment of my life to represent the country and come away with a win is a great feeling and it’s great for the nation.

"I had a call up last year as well, but it was just trying to sort out the paperwork with the FIFA clearance, obviously I played through the England national team set-up at youth level.

"I managed to get that FIFA clearance this time and I went out there and the feeling was amazing. The training was great, the bunch of boys we had as a team, the manager and it ended with a win against Belize. It was a great feeling."

 

You’ll know the answer better than most so can you explain just what qualifying for the Gold Cup means to a country like Guyana?

"It's massive for Guyana. Everyone came together as one, it was a great feeling, and for the country there was so much love and it was just a massive experience for myself. It felt really special to be a part of it.

"It’s the first time Guyana as a nation have ever qualified in any sport for an international tournament.

"The Gold Cup is a massive tournament – the equivalent to the Euros so it is huge for the country.

"You could see that at the game itself, the whole country was together, and everyone enjoyed it." 

 

There must have been a lot of pressure on the team then to deliver this for the nation?

"There was a lot of pressure from the whole country – the president came to see us the night before the game. But we did have a lot of support from a lot of players and managers.

"Gilberto Silva (ex-Arsenal), Kolo Toure (ex-Manchester City), Chris Smalling (current Manchester United) all sent us messages – Viv Anderson (ex-Manchester United) came out to the game as well so we had a lot of belief instilled into us that we could do it."

 

And the celebrations of getting to a first major tournament must have been surreal to be a part of. Can you describe the emotion at the final whistle?

"It was like nothing I’ve seen before in football.

"I’ve been in some play-off finals before but this was just something that I’ve never felt or seen before.

"It brought the whole country together and for the players, it was something unbelievably special. We had players, coaches, fans on the pitch and breaking down crying. That’s how much it meant to the country and us as the team.

"The celebrations after the game were enjoyed by everyone. It was so surreal, I don’t think it really kicked in until the Sunday when the Gold Cup announced the teams going out to the tournament in the summer.

"It was an unreal feeling."

 

Can you explain where the allegiance to play for Guyana comes from?

"My mum was born there, as was my nan and grandfather. That’s the connection so Guyana has always been close to my heart and I got to enjoy the game with my older brother as well because he played centre-back.

"That was a great experience because he taught me how to play football as a young boy and if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have played football. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

"As a youth team player, I always wanted to play for England. I played through the U17s, U18s, U19s and all I had in my mindset was trying to play for England.

"You get to a certain point where you realise that unless you’re playing in the top four, it’s a bit difficult to get into the team.

"To be fair, when I was playing youth football with England, Guyana was always there asking me to come and have a look and play.

"As a child, you always think about playing for England, the Three Lions etc.

"What I’ve done is I’ve gone over there and bonded with the team – I wouldn’t look back now and to be honest, I wish I did it earlier in my career. It’s an amazing feeling."

 

As you say, to play with your older brother – Ronayne Marsh-Brown – made the experience all the more special. A proud moment for the whole family, I imagine?

"It was amazing. My mum and my dad were over the moon for us to play together – the whole family was buzzing.

"For me and him to play together, it was special. It still hasn’t really hit me that we’ve played in the same side together and hopefully we’ll play together many more times as well.

"It was the first ever time I played alongside my brother as a professional.

"The Gold Cup would be something I’d never forget in my life. It’ll be a memory I’ll never forget and one I could tell my kids, grandkids and my brother can tell his kids, who are my nephews. It would be very special to us."

 

 

* Keanu was talking about his international experiences as part of his programme interview for the upcoming game with Tranmere Rovers. Buy the programme on matchday for £3 to read everything else he discussed with Ryan Robinson – including life as a County player and the upcoming arrival of his first child. *


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