Kenwyne Jones has called time on his professional career but the much-travelled forward is still fondly remembered for moments of brilliance on the field of play that have caused reporters and fans alike to wonder what he might have achieved had he pushed himself to realise his full potential.
That conversation was revived last week when BBC Sport posted highlights of an English FA Cup match that was played on April 17 — exactly 11 years ago — at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Jones scored one goal and recorded one assist as Stoke City trounced Bolton Wanderers 5-0 in a stunningly lop-sided semi-final — the biggest winning margin at Wembley since 1939 — but only to go down 0-1 in the final to Manchester City courtesy a late Yaya Touré strike. Jones had had Stoke’s best opportunity in the 74th minute when he went one-on-one with Joe Hart but the England ‘keeper came out on top.
The nephew of 1988-’89 Trinidad and Tobago Strike Squad centre-forward Philbert Jones, Kenwyne was a starter for the Soca Warriors who made history in Germany, 2006 as the smallest nation to grace the FIFA World Cup.
The big striker from Point Fortin has played professionally for 11 different teams including four English clubs as well as two spells — at Sheffield Wednesday and Bournemouth — on loan. At home, after a trophy-filled Secondary Schools League campaign with St Anthony’s College, he started with the now defunct Joe Public before moving to W Connection.
In the twilight of his career he played with Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates and had a brief stint with Atlanta United in US Major League Soccer before returning home to Central FC and finally, retirement.
Indisputably, the early years in England’s Premiership were his best and at Stoke, which he joined from Sunderland, that Cup run was one the fans would always treasure.
The Staffordshire club had drawn only one game in their run to the semi-finals and the red-and-white striped shirts were tipped to beat Bolton on Wembley’s “hallowed” turf. But the manner of their victory left even their own fans in disbelief.
After a Bolton effort whizzed just over the crossbar, the Tony Pulis-coached “Potters” took total control.
An ill-advised pass out of defence gifted the ball to Stoke and from just outside the box, Matthew Etherington hit a sweetly-struck left-footer into the far corner in the 12th minute.
Soon after, Gary Cahill’s defensive header, under pressure, fell to midfielder Robert Huth and he volleyed it past Jussi Jaaskelainen for Stoke’s second.
Jones then made it 3-0 on the half-hour. Defender Jermaine Pennant broke down Stoke’s right flank and played the ball diagonally into the box where the Trinidadian, having slipped his marker, controlled it before using a side-foot chip to beat Jaaskelainen’s dive. His trademark double-cartwheel celebration added to the fans’ delight as Stoke went in well on top at the half.
Jones could then have covered himself in glory early in the second half but he was unable to get sufficient power behind a volley as an unexpected deflection came waist-high at him. However, any faint hopes Bolton might have entertained of fighting back were dashed as Jonathan Walters went on a solo run and fired home a low shot to put them four up after 68 minutes. Finally, nine minutes from the whistle, Jones picked up a ball on the right side and burst past one defender before squaring to Walters for his second goal, completing one of the finest wins in Stoke City’s history.
Incidentally, Jones ended the season as the club’s joint top-scorer with Walters, on 12 goals. We’ll never know just how good he might have become. It’s worth remembering that Jones played in defence and midfield at school and he didn’t really catch the eye at the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup in T&T.
It was at Southampton that Kenwyne was first used as a striker, in the mould of the traditional bruising, gate-crashing English centre-forwards such as Nat Lofthouse, Malcolm MacDonald, Peter Withe and Alan Shearer, to name a few.
That experience secured his place alongside Stern John up front for the Soca Warriors in Germany before a challenge by England’s David James left him side-lined with an injured knee.
Jones came back from that and other setbacks and went on to lead T&T to some memorable performances under Stephen Hart.
Yet another son of the soil whose star shone with dazzling brightness, if only in spurts.
SOURCE: T&T Express