KINGSTON, Jamaica – Continental governing body, CONCACAF, has led an outpouring of tributes for Jamaica Football Federation president, Captain Horace Burrell, who passed away in the United States on Tuesday.
Jamaican Burrell, a seminal figure in regional football, served as a senior vice-president on the CONCACAF executive and also sat on the disciplinary committee of football’s world governing body, FIFA.
“Captain Burrell’s commitment and vision for the sport contributed to create a strong legacy for the game within the region,” a statement from the Miami-headquartered organisation said.
“With his passion and spirit, he was a tireless supporter of his country’s football development.”
CONCACAF governs football in North, Central American and the Caribbean.
Cricket West Indies also hailed Captain Burrell’s contribution to sports development across the region, noting he had left a strong legacy.
“Jamaica’s football made an indelible mark on the world in 1998 – Captain Burrell and his team led that journey,” CWI president, Dave Cameron, said in a statement.
“We acknowledge his tremendous efforts to develop and grow the sport, not just in Jamaica, but in the Caribbean region. He stayed close to cricket and always had tips to share. His contribution will always be remembered.”
The Jamaica government also paid tribute to Burrell, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness describing the national sporting icon, businessman and philanthropist, as a loss to many communities throughout the island.
“Captain dedicated his life to serving Jamaica. He had a dream that Jamaica could compete with the best of the best in the football field,” Holness said.
“He was dedicated in ensuring Jamaica realized that dream of being in the World Cup finals with the Reggae Boyz in 1998.”
At the time of his death Captain Burrell remained active in his companies as chief executive officer and founder of both Captain’s Bakery and Captain’s Aviation Service.
The prime minister said Captain Burrell was one of Jamaica’s finest who was dedicated to Jamaicans.
“The nation has lost not only a father of our international football reputation but also a man who invested significantly in community development through Captain’s Bakery by sponsoring many leagues throughout the island.”
Captain Burrell received Jamaica’s fourth highest national honour, the Commander of the Order of Distinction (CD) in 1998. He also received the highest award, Order of Merit, from the world football governing body, FIFA.
Former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller said Burrell’s place was cemented in the region’s sporting history as he was the leading force in taking the Reggae Boyz to the 1998 World Cup in France.
“Captain Burrell with his flamboyance and bravado achieved this feat because he believed in himself and in the power and skill of the Jamaica people,” Simpson-Miller said in a statement.
“He was never afraid to knock on doors and think outside of the box as he tried to make the young Reggae Boyz a success.
“Captain Burrell also used his position in CONCACAF to advance Jamaica’s football and ensure that we were treated fairly.
“He exhibited admirable corporate social responsibility and was always giving whether through his bakery or helping young football talents.
“Jamaica, Football and the sporting fraternity have lost a giant and I have lost a friend… Walk good my dear Captain! May your soul rest in peace and light perpetual shine upon you,” Simpson Miller added.
Another former prime minister, PJ Patterson described Burrell as a “big figure” who would not be easy to replace.
“We have suffered a monumental loss. He was a big figure and it’s not going to be easy to replace him but I am sure he would want us to continue on the journey and he would want to reap the eternal rest which he deserves and I personally can attest to the epic quality of his contribution to the development of Jamaica,” said Patterson.
“It’s the loss of one who has stood at the very forefront in the cause of advancing the excellence of Jamaica in sports. When he became the president he had a very clear mission and that was to take us to the World Cup Finals in France.
“He shared that idea with me as he travelled one afternoon from Jamaica House to Montego Bay for the opening of Jarrett Park as a major centre for sports in western Jamaica and he said to me ‘prime minister, I have one clear ambition – I want the Jamaica football team to be present in France’ and I said to him what can I do to assist in that process and he said I want a coach from Brazil,” Patterson added.
Captain Burrell served as JFF president between 1994 and 2003 and then again from 2007 until his passing. (CMC)