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Keon DanielTrinidad and Tobago national midfield standout Keon Daniel was sacked by his Pro League employers, United Petrotrin, yesterday after the "Oilmen" grew weary of his repeated absences.
The 21-year-old Daniel did not turn up for Petrotrin's Lucozade Bix Six meeting with W. Connection on Tuesday, which they lost 2-1 at the Palo Seco Recreation Ground. He also missed their decisive regular season fixture with St Ann's Rangers, last week, which booked their 2008 Big Six berth in the first place.

Whether or not Daniel's departure was down to his supposedly swollen head or the high-handed approach of the Petrotrin board differs according to the speaker.

Petrotrin, in a press release, claimed the moral high ground.

"The management of the United Petrotrin professional football team advises that Mr Keon Daniel has been released with immediate effect from our programme," stated the release, which bore the name of club manager Evans Cadogan. "As a professional organisation, we place particular emphasis on the important attributes of discipline, professionalism and commitment.

"In this regard, it has become necessary to release Mr Daniel in an effort to uphold the values that have provided the foundation for our existence over the last four years."

Cadogan, when contacted by the Express, refused to even confirm that he dispatched any such release, let alone offer an explanation into his club's actions.

The 21-year-old Daniel declined comment yesterday. However, one source claimed that Petrotrin and their high-profile "Soca Warrior" were on a collision course for some time and blamed the club's board for creating the problem.

The alleged disagreement started in August when, after scoring two goals and setting up another in the Warriors' 3-1 World Cup qualifying win in Cuba, Daniel jetted off to England Premier League club, West Ham, for a trial.

Daniel supposedly failed to secure proper clearance from Petrotrin before heading to London. But, according to the source, club chairman Arnold Corneal's decision to allegedly slash their star's salary by half for the remainder of the season was excessive, especially as Daniel apologised for his indiscretion.

The 2008 Pro League season might be remembered as one in which Petrotrin snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Oilmen led the standings until June, after six successive victories, but their star forward Jerol Forbes and his strike partner Beville Joseph left for defending champions, CLICO San Juan Jabloteh, in August after failing to land a pay raise.

Petrotrin were caught in a bad patch of results at the time and were fourth. Coach Brian Williams, the 2006 Pro League Coach of the Year and a former "Strike Squad" standout, paid the ultimate price as he was sacked by the impatient board.

Williams and the board crossed swords in 2007 when the coach and his technical staff resigned in solidarity with sacked manager Larry Joseph. The Petrotrin board backed down and Joseph, Williams and their colleagues were reinstated. But, a year later, Williams was not as lucky.

The Oilmen eventually scraped into the 2008 Big Six tournament under new coach Leon Carpette, although they were bottom of the six-team standings up until kick off yesterday evening.

Daniel did little to assist their plight of late.

In national colours, the six foot playmaker and dead ball specialist rattled off four World Cup qualifying goals from eight outings and seven items from his total of 24 appearances under national coach Francisco Maturana.

But, in the 30 game-plus Pro League season, Daniel contributed just three goals for Petrotrin and, on Tuesday evening, bewildered fans vented their frustrations with the absent star.

Petrotrin's decision to sack "Skillachi" would seem to be an extension of the growing unhappiness with the player. But it might be a hollow victory and the national star is unlikely to be short on offers from interested clubs.