Tue, Jun


It is not often that Professor Rene Simoes allows emotion to betray his pragmatic outlook of the game.However, after three months on the job, the Brazilian proudly revealed that he has found something exciting in Trinidad and Tobago.

"It was (Devon) Leacock who made the goal," said Simoes excitedly. "It was his pass that set it up."

The point of discussion was a neat strike by national youth striker, Nkosi Blackman, which gave the Under-17s a 1-0 lead over their Japanese counterparts in a friendly at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

But Simoes much preferred to talk about the burgeoning talent of his 16-year-old playmaker, Devon Leacock, whose pass had set up Blackman.

The FIFA Under-17 World Championship Trinidad & Tobago 2001 presented by JVC is just days away, and the host nation will be flooded with young talent already on the squads of professional clubs all over the world.

Simoes, who already has three world championship adventures under his belt with the Jamaican senior and youth teams and the Brazil Under-20 team, believes that many of these players could learn a thing or two from the St Benedict's College Fourth Form student.

"He has the ability to make the difficult plays look easy," Simoes explained. "And the easy plays look even easier. Sometimes he gets the ball surrounded by opponents and you think 'no way.'

"And then woo, woo, woo," gesturing wildly with his hands as if demonstrating the youngster's dexterity in such tight spots.

High praise indeed from a coach who has schooled the likes of Corinthians' wizard Marcelinho Carioca and Brazilian 1994 FIFA World Cup winner Leonardo at the youth level.

But Simoes is hardly the first coach to be bowled over by the potential of the young Tobagonian.

In his hometown, Leacock's contemporaries talk in glowing terms about the boy from Plymouth who they refer to as the "new Dwight Yorke."

Leacock, it seems, has all the necessary tools to follow in Yorke's footsteps as stated on the FIFA official Web site last week.

Precocious youth that Leacock is, though, he plans to surpass Yorke.

"I know I come from the same island as Dwight, but really my favourite player is Juan Sebastian Veron," said Leacock.

"Since I can remember, everyone's been telling me I could go on to be like Dwight Yorke. But I know to myself, I can't be like him. I want to go on to be even better," Leacock said recently.