Fri, Nov


Unemployed and his money running out, Miami's super soccer star is thinking about taking ... The Road To Trinidad.

Two months ago Steve David was voted the Most Valuable Player in the North American Soccer League.

Today he is unemployed, his money is running out, and if something doesn't develop soon he'll be returning to his native Trinidad.

David played for the Miami Toros. His season salary was slightly more than $6,000. The checks are no longer coming in.

"The Toros promised me a job after the season," he said over the phone from his Miami home. "They didn't give me one." Now he's out looking for employment.

He's also attending Miami-Dade South Junior College, hoping eventually to become an architect. David, 24, will run track and has been clocked in the 100-meters at 10.5.

His one-bedroom apartment rents for $235 a month, excluding lights and gas. "I hope the money holds out until December. If not, I've got no choice. I'll just have to go back home.

"I'd never go on welfare."

Miami has discouraged at least one team seeking his services. It told the club he's tied up to a contract. In fact, there is no such contract and David is a free agent. He'd like to play next year for Miami, if not the Toros, the warm weather and the Tampa Bay Rowdies appeal to him.

"The great players are the ones who make the money," he says, "not the ones who score the goals."

It would indicate David is not a great player, though his magical footwork is as good as the best and his scoring ability even better. "I think I'm as good as anybody in the world right now."

David worked for it. After the Toros had a normal workout in the afternoon, he'd go out and conduct his own practice at night. "I worked hard to get where I am. It was no fluke. I know I have improved and so has the competition.

"I told myself during the season that I should win the Most Valuable Player award. I really almost expected it, but I figured it might go to someone else. I felt I had been Rookie of the Year the previous season and didn't get it." That honor went to Los Angeles' Doug McMillian, though David scored 14 goals, McMillian 10.

"When they told me I had won it, it didn't move me a bit. I am the same person I was before winning it. I don't want to change.

"And I don't want to tell myself I outdistanced Pele for the honor. Defeating Pele at his age is not achieving anything. He is over the hill."

Davis was a Trinidad policeman who has also played Division I soccer in England. Twice he was voted Trinidad's MVP and his selection led to an interest by Miami to sign him.

The state of the Miami superstar is the extreme state of the NASL. Figuring on a base of $150,000, New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver made more money this year per victory than David made the entire season. To match the $200,000 or so of Joe Namath, David would have to labor 35 years.

His salary, he figures, was tops on the Toros. That means some were making considerably less, some in the $3,000 range, David estimates. It is an owner's market—take the salary offer or we'll get someone else. It is that simple and with a world-wide market it doesn't take much to build a champion.

In other sports where there is the outcry about the overpaid, pampered and spoiled athletes, soccer is the classic example of the underpaid.

David is the illustration. He says he loves Miami and would love to stay with the Toros. "I am holding out hopes something will happen. But I'm not sure." He could probably make more on the unemployment lines.