He was born in Jamaica, grew up in Canada and now lives in Norfolk. Relocating is a major part of being a professional footballer but few have put up with it as well as Simeon Jackson. One of the fresh faces in Paul Lambert’s squad, he may also have one of the most impressive CVs at the club.
After some tired marking by the Shrewsbury defenders, Jackson got on the end of a corner and headed the last minute winner in the League Two play-off Final of 2009.
“One local paper even said this week that he didn’t have the strength to play for us. Well, I wonder what they’re saying now,” said his then Gills manager Mark Stimson. And considering that Jackson came to England in 2004 for an unsuccessful trial with Gillingham, it was not just a cliché when Stimson said that criticism just seems to build him up.
Later on, he attracted the attention of Manchester United and Manchester City, having unsuccessful trials at both clubs. And when he passed Curtis Davies and Zat Knight to score the equaliser in an FA Cup tie to Aston Villa, it looked like the Premier League interest may have returned. Several papers claimed that Martin O’Neill would buy the Canadian for £1million.
Nothing materialised in Villa’s supposed pursuit of Jackson and he stayed at Gillingham, ending the 2008/09 season as top scorer, Player of the Year and promoted to League One. And despite the Gills’ relegation last season, Jackson still managed to bag sixteen league goals.
Along the way he has even started an international career for Canada earning ten caps – his only international goal so far came in his debut against Cyprus. A quick free kick found him inside the Cypriot box where he struck it into the far corner and following this, he managed to play for Canada in all four games of their 2009 North American Gold Cup campaign.
After this impressive start to his international career he was named the 2009 Canadian Player of the Year. This award added to his quickly growing collection, with two seasons as top scorer at Rushden and Diamonds, a League Two Player of the Month award and of course, his League Two play-off winners medal.
When joining Norwich this summer, some questioned his ability to step up to Championship level. After their play-off final victory, Stimson said: ‘The more he plays with better players, the better he’ll get… I’m sure he could play at the next level, the Championship.” And by starting alongside Chris Martin in Norwich’s opening match against Watford he has now played in League Two, League One and the Championship in consecutive seasons.
Even with all these moments in his career already, there is clearly room for Jackson to continue making his name as a great player. And if he intends to make himself a hero at Norwich along the way, the signs already look good. He managed to test Scott Loach early on in his Carrow Road debut, before a back-heel pass found Andrew Crofts on the edge of the area who scored the Canaries’ first goal of the season.
He only played ten minutes in the away trip to Scunthorpe United and failed to make an impact. And in his second home game, Jackson was used as a late substitute again. This time, however, he took his opportunity. Grant Holt found him at the far post and he controlled the ball and slid it past the ‘keeper to give Norwich their second victory of the campaign.
He has worked his way to the Championship and looking at his first games in yellow he has enough quality to play in the second tier. His energetic and skilful style has impressed Paul Lambert for a while, who revealed that he first saw him at Rushden and Diamonds. His long-term interest paid off when Simeon scored his first goal for the club against Swansea. Lambert praised his ability again saying he was “pleased for Simeon to get off the mark, it was a super finish, it really was.”
Even though Chris Martin’s future may be in question, it is the competition of trying to break into a strong strike-force that helped Simeon move to Norfolk. On the day he signed, Simeon showed his competitive spirit saying, “I played against Norwich last season…they’ve got a great strike-force already so I’m looking forward to some healthy competition.’”
With this mentality off the pitch and his ability on the pitch, we could see Jackson claiming a regular place in the first-team this year. And if he plays for Norwich with the same amount of heart and determination he has shown throughout his career, the new City striker could earn himself a lifetime of respect at Carrow Road.