The road to the World Cup in France started four years earlier when Brazilian technical director René Simoes took over the Reggae Boyz . He turned the team from a team of "performing seals" into a team of professional players. In 1997, they surprised everyone by finishing ahead of Mexico in the Third Round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualification and reached the Final Round. Homegrown talents such as Warren Barrett, Theodore Whitmore, Ricardo Gardner, Walter Boyd and Onandi Lowe contributed to the campaign.
The Final Round, however, did not go well for the Reggae Boyz. Jamaica suffered 2 draws and 2 defeats in the first 4 games before beating El Salvador in the 5th game. On the 6th game, Jamaica began its turnaround. They brought four British-born Jamaicans into the squad. Against Canada on September, 1997, Fitzroy Simpson, Paul Hall, Robbie Earle and Dean Burton made their debut. The team remained undefeated for the rest of the WC Qualifiers. They managed notable draws against the two CONCACAF superpowers, the United States and Mexico. Dean Burton would end the World Cup Qualifying campaign with 4 goals in 5 games.
Jamaica's search for football talents in the UK did not end with the World Cup Qualfication. They would bring in Frank Sinclair, Marcus Gayle and Darryl Powell for the WC Finals.
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.