Belize international Deon McCaulay is a clinical finisher. In March, the 29-year-old forward returned for his second spell with the USA's Atlanta Silverbacks after spending two years in his native country with Verdes. McCaulay is best known for being the joint-top scorer in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup along with Uruguay's Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie of the Netherlands - all on 11 goals. In addition to that feat, he is the only Belizean to score at least one goal in four different editions of the Copa Centroamericana. He took some time to speak to CONCACAF.com about his career.
How old were you when you first started to play football?
When I started playing football, I was probably seven- or eight-years-old, but I was probably kicking the ball around a bit earlier. Once my foot touched the ball, I knew it was meant for me.
Growing up, who was your footballing hero?
My football hero was definitely Ronaldinho. My family and I had a picture of him in our house and every time he played we got really excited to watch his greatness.
You started your career in 2005 with Kremandala in Belize, how key was the club in your development as a player?
Kremandala was influential because I played with them, winning my way into the highest league in Belize and having my first test playing against bigger more organized teams.
Belize international Deon McCaulay (pictured) is shown playing for Verdes against Queretaro in the 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. (Photo: Mexsport)
You played with Belize in its first-ever appearance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013. How was that experience?
It's always amazing to make history in your country and we did that by qualifying to the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time ever. To play on that stage was a nice feeling. We played against some big teams like the USA, Costa Rica and Cuba and it was quite an experience. I personally think we could have done better, but we will keep working hard to make more opportunities.
How did it feel to be the joint-top scorer in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 11 goals alongside Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez?
To be honest I really didn't expect to be top scorer with those guys coming from such a small place in the world, but to me it was just another accomplishment. I was very humbled. I was just focused on trying to help my country advance and not really focusing on how many goals I had. I always had a thing for scoring and I always believed that I was the one to take on that pressure and try to reach the next level, where nobody would expect our country to go.
You are 29-years-old and have 22 goals in 42 games for Belize. Have you set a target of how many more international goals you want to score?
I am still young and I would like to score as many goals as I can. I will continue to work hard as always and be very disciplined. Maybe I can make it to 30. Who knows, depending on how many more international games I play for the rest of my career and how long my career is. I keep surprising myself, so I don't doubt myself ever.
What are your objectives for 2017?
My goal for 2017 is to help the Atlanta Silverbacks to do well in the season and do what I do best, which is to score goals. This is the first time I will be playing with them since 2014, so I am hoping to improve from the last time. I think I have shown over the years that I have the discipline, skills, work rate and comprehension of the game to play at any level, so I will work to ensure I have a good 2017.
What advice do you have for youths who want to play football professionally?
The advice I would give any young aspiring player is always to have a balance between your education and football, and always respect your parents. Also, try to learn discipline from a young age and when opportunity presents itself, don't shy away from it because you never know how it can change your life. Here is a short story about an opportunity I missed, I was in high school and a scout came all the way from Kansas City (Wizards) to see me play. I wasted my opportunity. However, if I had taken that opportunity, I would probably be playing in the MLS from a very young age. So, no matter what, always believe in your dreams. I kept on believing. That's why I was strong enough to make it this far and to continue make strides in life. Youth football players should always make use of their opportunities.
What do you like to do for fun outside of football?
I like to go to Reggae concerts and go on trips either in Belize or abroad, and also spend time with my family. I love fishing, so I do that very often.