Shock and disbelief was the prevailing sentiment expressed by players, teammates and friends of deceased T&T senior men’s team footballer Shahdon Winchester yesterday.
Winchester was one of four people killed in a vehicular accident along the south-bound lane of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway near Gasparillo yesterday morning. Winchester was just 27-years-old and leaves to mourn a two-year-old daughter and a fiancee. He also leaves behind his mother and two younger siblings.
The news has rocked the national football community, including T&T Football Association president William Wallace, who is in Qatar as a guest of FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the FIFA Club World Cup.
“I am still in a deep state of shock and sadness. I managed Shahdon during my time with the senior team and what I experienced was a young man that was humble, well-mannered, soft-spoken and an individual with big dreams and ambitions,” Wallace said.
“To his mother, your son was a fine young man and we are grateful for the memories and positive influences he would have had on others.”
Winchester made 27 appearances and scored six goals for the senior men’s team since making his debut as a promising 18-year-old in 2010 under then-head coach Russell Latapy. It was the beginning of the road to fulfilling the immense promise showed by Princes Town native, who came through the ranks of the national youth teams, starting with the national under-15 team.
It was on the under-15 team that he and former national youth team and W Connection FC teammate Jerrel Britto first met and initiated a 13-year friendship.
Britto told Guardian Media Sports that they grew so close that teammates began referring to the inseparable pair as ‘Black and White’.
“When we were playing school football, I was at QRC and he was at Naps, the topic at the time was that these two young footballers are doing so well for their schools. I ended up showing up to a national under 15 screening and he was there and from that, we just ended up meshing,” Britto said.
“It was really him that persuaded to come to Connection. One of the players labelled us Black and White because of the two dogs on the label of the ‘Black and White’ (whiskey) bottle. We just built this relationship and became inseparable.”
He added, “Shahdon Winchester to me he had a unique personality. He was a guy that you could always call and speak to and no matter what he was going through he would always give you that listening ear. I hope he rests in eternal peace, we’ll forever be Black and White, he’ll forever be my brother. It’s tragic but this is life and we have to accept as it comes but I will forever love him.”
For current national senior team captain Khaleem Hyland, coming to terms with the loss of a fellow Soca Warrior is difficult. Hyland, who plies his trade at Al-Faisaly FC in Saudi Arabia, called it “just a terrible way to lose a life.”
“It’s even harder for us because Shahdon was one of us. He was our brother and this could be any one of us. I send all my prayers to his mother and the family members of the others who lost their lives,” Hyland said.
Winchester, who would have turned 28 on January 8, was representing W Connection in the current TT Pro League season which began last week. This after having represented a number of foreign-based clubs in Mexico, Vietnam, Azerbaijan and Finland, where he played most recently for Seinäjoen Jalkapallokerho (SJK) in November 2018.
This situation may have been about to change according to another Soca Warriors teammate Sheldon Bateau, who told Guardian Media Sports that he was organising a trial at a new team for Winchester.
“A few days ago I messaged him because an agent was looking for a striker and I thought that Shahdon would have been the perfect player to fit that profile so I reached out to him and I put him on to the agent. So to know that I was trying to put things in place for him to get back outside of Trinidad and make a better life for himself and for his family, and this has taken place is very sad.”
The T&T Pro League has postponed tomorrow’s round one fixture between W Connection and Point Fortin Civic Centre as a sign of respect for the now deceased player.
Sad day for T&T football
By Jonathan Ramnanansingh (Newsday).
A TRULY sad day for T&T football.
Such was the sentiment shared by members of the national football fraternity on the untimely passing of W Connection and T&T striker, Shahdon Winchester, who was one of four fatalities in a vehicular accident on the South-bound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway in the vicinity of Gasparillo on Thursday morning.
Chairman of the TT Pro League, Brent Sancho, expressed great sadness upon receipt of Winchester’s passing and sent heartfelt condolences to the footballer’s family, friends and teammates throughout both T&T and the globe. Although the 27-year old plied his domestic trade with W Connection, he also had stints with international clubs in Finland, Mexico and Azerbaijan.
“It’s still shocking to me,” said Sancho. “Our hearts go out to his family. He was a player that I felt was starting to come into his own and really showing his true qualities. It’s very unfortunate. Surely now, with this being the second road death in the football fraternity this year, it’s something I feel we have to work a bit closer with the authorities as it relates to road safety. We can’t afford to continuously lose our footballing gems like this.”
Sancho could help but to reflect on the May 30 passing of another former national footballer, Jason Marcano, via vehicular accident. The Central FC owner admitted the football fraternity had not yet fully recovered from Marcano’s death. Now, partnered with Thursday morning’s unwelcoming news, TT football has plunged into further mourning.
“It comes on the backdrop of the death of Jason Marcano. Just when you thought we were getting back to normality, we have been dealt another big blow to the TT Pro League and football as a whole. Most of the players and staff are lost for words. It has been a tough year for football, both on and off the field. This is not the way we wanted to end the year and it’s really is a tragic story. I hope that his family and close relative can find some form of console and get strength from it,” he added.
Meanwhile, W Connection chief executive officer Renee John-Williams, also paid tribute to the life and career of the former Naparima College stalwart. In a statement issued to the media on Thursday, John-Williams revealed the club is in deep grief. “There are no words that could accurately describe the way anyone of us at W Connection feel at this moment. We are devastated and heartbroken by Shahdon’s untimely passing. Shahdon grew up in W Connection from a young boy, starting from the inception of the youth programme in 2000. He was a true son, a brother and will forever be a Savonetta Boy and lifetime member.”
“He was a talented and dedicated player, our captain, a father, and it was an honour to watch his growth and achievements over the last two decades on a personal and professional level. We grieve along with his family and ask that they be kept in prayer during this time and beyond. His death has left a void in our hearts and we pray that comfort can be found in the many happy memories he helped to create.”
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Shamfa Cudjoe, also sent condolences to Winchester’s family.
“Shahdon’s passing is truly a shock to the entire football fraternity, and by extension TT. He was a true patriot and his passion and dedication to the sport of football would surely be remembered.
Trinidad and Tobago has, indeed, lost a gem. On behalf of the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, I extend sincerest condolences to his family and friends at this time. May he rest in peace.”