Michael "Sally" Saldenha was described by some of his closest friends, national football coach, Everard "Gally" Cummings, former National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Keston Nancoo and former national football manager Peter Rampersad as a "Man of Principles."
Saldenha, who passed away on Thursday at his home, was considered as a family man, a team player and a disciplinarian, who loved life and saw the good in others.
Saldenha, 75, came from humble beginnings but earned the respect of all and sundry on the football field and in the work place. The confident individual was part of the memorable Malvern teams which won the Port-of-Spain League most coveted titles and nationally-contested FA Trophy and the BDV Trophy.
He also gave up a year of playing for Malvern Sports Club to play for the community team called Glory Guys Football Club, of which he was captain. Glory Guys won the right to move to the First Division of the Port-of-Spain League in 1975. That sacrifice came to nought as the then T&T Football Federation (TTFF), then refused to take Glory Guys in the first Division but gave the position to St James United Club which became the first local professional team in T&T, Aviation Services Limited (ASL).
Gally said, "We had great times and he was a wonderful friend who would give you good advice and stand with you. Michael Saldenha I must say, was instrumental in my life and where I am today. Sally along with Norris Baptiste and deceased Clyde Blondell shaped me as a young man growing up. I would not have been who I am today without his guidance," said Cummings, who along with Rampersad and Nancoo were friends from an early age with Saldenha.
"You know I trust only a few people and I tell you Sally was one of those persons. He was a genuine man and never went back on his word. Yes, he would tell you what he thought and that was it. He held nothing against anyone. He was a true person.
"When I came back from Mexico from my professional stint, Sally gave me all the support and assistance which I needed as coach to ensure that Glory Guys team won the league in 1975. He was the captain of the team. His support was immeasurable. That was the measure of the man. His death came to me as a shock because I spoke to him Wednesday morning and he told me ''Gally, everything all right.' So, when I was informed of his death, I was surprised. Sally and I went to Richmond Street Boys Anglican School, so we were friends from childhood. We played together on many occasions. But there is one thing more that I wish to say, and it pertains to our stint at Glory Guys, Glory Guys was a Football Institute of Learning."
Rampersad, who managed Malvern for many years before moving to the national team said, 'When I met Sally some 50 years ago, he has never changed. He was always interested in football and was a student of the game. Sally was a very trustworthy friend and he would go beyond, to ensure success for his club and teams.
"I know Sally since 1969, and one thing about him that stood out, was his forthrightness, he will tell you what was on his mind. You could disagree but he told you what he thought. Sally loved his discipline and everyone knows he was a disciplinarian. Over the years, he has stuck to his discipline with success. We have lost a great friend and comrade but he will not be forgotten."
Nancoo, who grew up at Dundonald Street in Port-of-Spain the birthplace of Glory Guys, was always close to Sally. Nancoo, who became famous, through his exploits at St Mary's College in the 70s and Maple and Malvern thereafter, learned a lot from the astute leadership of Sally in his early years.
He said, "Sally was a genuine man. He was one who was committed to bettering his community. His work with the youths from Glory Guys is something no one will forget. The discipline which he demanded made our teams better. What is notable is that we were successful. He was a true person and very down to earth at that. May his soul rest in peace. We have lost another good man."
SOURCE: T&T Guardian