Ex-PNE full-back joins Boyz at top

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Former Preston defender Tyrone Mears once teased journalists by declaring he was qualified to play for Brazil.

This week the Stockport-born full-back finally made his full international debut – in a Jamaica shirt.

Mears, who spent four years learning his trade with Preston, was handed his first cap by Reggae Boyz manager John Barnes in the 0-0 draw with Nigeria in London.

It went well and now the 25-year-old hopes he has booked himself a regular place in the squad.

"It was a fantastic feeling to be selected," said Mears, who played 71 minutes of the game at Millwall's New Den on Wednesday.

"When John Barnes first phoned me I was really excited.

"It's a fantastic opportunity to play for Jamaica."

Mears was in familiar company for his debut, with former Deepdale team-mates Claude Davis and Omar Daley in the squad. Ricardo Fuller would have been, too, had he not dislocated his shoulder playing for Stoke.

Despite being brought up in England, Mears, currently on a season-long loan with French club Marseilles, qualified for the Reggae Boyz through his Jamaican-born parents.

But he revealed he sought the advice of old friends like Fuller and Davis before committing himself to the Caribbean cause.

"I asked them about playing for Jamaica and I liked what they told me," he said. "I've not had too much time with the squad but, based on what the coach has told me and what I've seen, the foundation is there for this to be a very good squad."

Mears was recruited by Craig Brown at Preston in the summer of 2002 from Manchester City and stayed four seasons, making 80-plus appearances in an injury-hit spell.

He was sold to Premier League West Ham for 1m, and a year later moved to Derby for the same fee.

But the Rams' relegation to the Championship at the end of last season prompted him to seek Champions League football – incurring a club fine for flying off to train with Marseilles without informing manager Paul Jewell.

Mears has yet to start a game in France due to yet more injury woe. But he is now fully recovered from a knee problem and, after making the bench, is hoping to make his breakthrough.

"It was difficult when Derby were relegated," he told Jamaican reporters this week.

"I needed to move as I didn't want to play in the Championship and I wanted to go to a stable club. Marseilles came in and the opportunity to play in the Champions League came up.

"I had a knee injury that kept me out for four months, but I've been back for a month or so now."

Brian Ellis offers more stories from the Deepdale Diaries in Saturday's Lancashire Evening Post

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