Kendall Jagdeosingh, or “Jaggy” sat down with Thai League Football to tell us how a man capped seventeen times by Trinidad and Tobago came to be play in the Thai Premier League.
Thailand is seen by many as one the most beautiful countries in the world, but you come from a place some people see as even more attractive. Have you found it difficult to be away from your family and those beautiful islands?
Well, I left my country when I was twenty one and apart from that my wife and youngest daughter live in America and my other daughter lives in Trinidad. I have been away from my wife and youngest daughter for a while now. Being in America was easier because I could see them once a month for like a weekend or five days. So being away from them is difficult but this is my job and my wife understands (even though she gets frustrated a lot!) It is all part of the sacrifice now so that everything can be better later.
If you can settle here would you think of bringing your family over, or would you continue to support your family back home?
At the moment, the plan was that they would be here, but my youngest daughter goes to school in Trinidad. My wife is finishing at college this year. They will come over for two months in the summer which will be great, but as soon as she finishes in college we can plan for the future. But who knows what the future holds. When I came last season they offered me a two year contract. They offered me a new deal at the end of last season so we will see how the season goes.
Visiting your club last week, Chainat FC are not glamorous but have good pitches and coaches. How are things developing there?
They gave me a big break and I’m grateful for the opportunity. The beginning was difficult because of the way people reacted when I first came as a black man. Me and my friend were the only black players in the city. I don’t know whether it was racism, but everywhere we went people would be staring at us. You can tell when someone is trash talking. You just get that feeling and we had to deal with that on top of being in a new environment and trying to get to know my players and wondering if they were going to accept me. To help me I have worked hard to learn Thai so I can relate to the local people more and be comfortable knowing if I am welcome or not here. Also on the playing side, it was totally different to my team in America ( The Rochester Rhinos.) After my first two games here I didn’t play a full game, only a few as substitute. But I stuck with it and trained extra hard. Then the new coach (Surachai) came in for the last six or seven games of last season when we were close to relegation and things changed for me. In fact I ended up having a good season. In the twenty eight games I played, I scored ten goals and had six assists as well as scoring Chainat’s first hat trick. So things worked out well for me.
Let’s talk about your international career. You have seventeen caps for Trinidad and Tobago. Tell us about some of the highlights.
I played from youth level all the way up for my country. I played for the Olympic team and then made my debut against Japan when I was nineteen in 2006. It was in Japan. Although it was a friendly there were seventy thousand fans there. The atmosphere was amazing. I came on in the second half and it was the highlight of my career so far. I was probably the youngest guy with some of our best players. Dwight Yorke were still with us and I played with him, Russell Latapy, Kenwin Jones; I played with all those guys.
Talking of fans, Thai supporters have a reputation for being excellent. Have you experienced this?
Oh yes! I remember when we played Buriram last season. The match started at six so we had to be there at four. When we got there, man it was packed! When the game started you couldn’t see any space. Also the fans are amazing! After the game the players go to the opposing fans and they sing to the team. That’s something nice that you don’t see in world football. They are not violent or racist. They are fantastic.
Which other internationals stand out so far in your career?
Our training camp in Argentina was excellent. Francisco Maturana who coached Columbia in the 1994 World Cup coached us. He also worked in Spain and at that time was the third best coach in the world. He was instrumental in me settling into the national team because he gave me a chance there. We spent three weeks there and it was the best time. A player is always confident when you have the coaches behind you and he really was.
Thank you for your time.