‘You can guarantee I’ll be shattered after a Hong Kong game’: toil trumps trickery for hardworking Jaimes McKee
Hong Kong and Eastern football star Jaimes McKee reveals his remarkable journey through sports ahead of the new Hong Kong Premier League season
It didn’t take long for Hong Kong football fans to miss Eastern star Jaimes McKee over the local league off-season; his unmistakable blonde locks whizzing up and down the wing became a familiar sight at Mong Kok Stadium.
“Skill-wise, I doubt myself sometimes, but what I always bring is hard work. You can guarantee that I’ll be absolutely shattered after a Hong Kong game – I can’t move after them,” says the 30-year-old.
As the new Hong Kong Premier League season kicks off this weekend, McKee hopes his rather unorthodox techniques – which descend from his remarkable sports resume – continue to cause havoc for opposition defenders.
When he’s not galloping around the pitch, you will likely find McKee on a golf course. Or on a tennis court. Or a cricket field. Or a ski slope.
“I’ve always felt my hand-eye coordination is better than my foot-eye,” he says. “It’s funny how I gradually got into football. The transition to being comfortable using my feet was a bit difficult, but you pick up different skills from different sports.”
To say that sport runs in the family is an understatement. His mother captained the Hong Kong ladies’ golf team; his grandfather was a professional footballer for English team Birmingham City; his uncle is an active professional golfer ... not to mention his tennis-mad father and sister.
“We’re very sporty. I started off playing tennis and golf, and it wasn’t until we moved here that I got into football,” explains McKee.
The McKees left UAE for Hong Kong in 1997, where the then ten-year-old had his first real taste of football. McKee fondly recalls the “more dusty than grassy” pitches he and his King George V School classmates played on after school.
But his introduction to the beautiful game was by no means the end of the road for other sports.
“I wouldn’t give my parents peace and quiet. On holidays, I’d push to go somewhere with tennis courts or golf courses nearby,” he says.
His mother, Joanne, concurs. “Even on the beach, we’d be playing some kind of sport. There was just no sitting still. Ski trips are another family favourite,” she says, adding that her son also had a spell in the Hong Kong under-14s cricket team.
McKee’s seemingly endless knack for sports has had some adverse effects on his professional football career, admittedly.
“I don’t know if I’ve got the most out of football because I tend to try too hard and analyse too much. Everything gets tense because emotions are high – my focus gets narrow,” he says.
“It can be a bit of a hindrance. You have to be reactive to what is going around you, and if you don’t let go of the little mistakes you’ve made, you’re not going to be playing at your best.”
But it is precisely this imbalance between technical and physical prowess that has the local fans roaring his name every time he touches the ball.
“For the Hong Kong games, my hairs stand on end before I even walk out onto the pitch. I honestly don’t expect [the reception]. It’s an unbelievable feeling and it fires me up to do even more,” he says.
“I don’t really know what the driving force is, but I just want to be good at the sport I’m playing.”
Mother McKee could not be any prouder. “We’ve watched him play in Bhutan, Vietnam, the Maldives ... when the crowd calls his name, we get goosebumps. It’s so special when he plays for his country.”