Wed, May


An incident with rebel terrorists and whizzing bullets in his native Trinidad helped Steve David, the North American Soccer League's top scorer this season, decide to pursue his career in the United States.

"Really, I never wanted to leave Trinidad, but something that happened one day changed my mind," said David, the former Trinidad national team star who now plays for the Aztecs.

He recounted how, as a sergeant specializing in fingerprinting on the Point Fortin, Trinidad police force, he was pressed into duty on a posse that was searching for 15 armed revolutionaries.

While combing the rugged foothills, he suddenly found himself caught in a crossfire, bullets flying just over his head. His uncle, also on the posse, was hit in the arm.

David escaped unharmed, but he decided that was the end of dodging bullets for him.

The NASL's most valuable player for the Miami Toros in 1975, David was purchased outright by the Aztecs this year and is leading the league with 22 goals and 48 points in 21 games.

David, 26, is not one of the league's more flamboyant or colorful players, but he may be its quickest. As a kid, he recalled, he used to race and frequently beat a neighbor named Hasely Crawford — who became the 100-meter champion at the Montreal Olympics.

David credits his speed with making him a "better-than-average player" and said it gives him the ability to break open a game.

He also gives credit for his success with the Aztecs to teammate George Best, the former European superstar.

"I couldn't ask for a better teammate than George," David said. "With him setting you up, it is easy to score goals."

Despite his success in the NASL, David's fame and salary hardly rank with that of such aging soccer superstars as Best or Pele.

"Sometimes I think about that," David said. "In this league you are often rewarded for your name, not your ability.

"But those people worked hard for what they are getting. They established themselves over the years. I don't want to take away their glory; I just want to build my own."