WHEN it comes to strong and charismatic leaders on the football pitch, very few can rival the stalwart custodian – Aubrey David.
Following more than a decade of unwavering service, the dynamic and rugged centre-back has become one of the most senior players in the T&T men’s senior team and a leader that many of the younger players look up to. As a result, head coach Angus Eve appointed the 32-year-old David as captain of the national team and he recently led the Soca Warriors to two victories in two matches in the Concacaf Nations League.
Born in Guyana, David represented his homeland in the early stages of his senior career following a stint with T&T at the youth level. There, he flew the red, white and black flag at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics.
However, after a brief spell with the Golden Jaguars at senior level – playing two friendly matches – David made the switch back to T&T and pledged allegiance to the Soca Warriors in November 2012.
Speaking on his see-saw encounter with Guyana, David said, “Not many people know, but I am Guyanese by birth. At the age of three, I moved to Trinidad with my mom and brother and spent, basically, the rest of my life here (in Trinidad) before I left to play football abroad.”
The Guyanese-Trinidadian fared well in his endeavours away from T&T – particularly during his tenure at Costa Rican Club, Saprissa – as he became the first Trinidadian to win the Concacaf League in 2020, as well as the Costa Rican league in 2020 and 2021.
He also had success in Major League Soccer (MLS) with FC Dallas, winning the Supporters’ Shield and the US Open Cup in 2016.
Currently, he plays for Costa Rican team, CS Cartaginés, on loan from Ecuadorian club, SD Aucas. David also stated that his decision to represent Guyana at the senior level was influenced by fellow Guyanese-Trinidadian Jamal Shabaaz, who is the head coach of the Guyana national team.
“When he (Shabaaz) found out (that I was Guyanese), he gave me a call”, David said. “At the time, Guyana were about to play in the Hex of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers after knocking out Trinidad.”
“When that happened, I was playing with the Trinidad U-23 team and I didn’t make the final team (for the 2012 Olympic qualifiers). So when coach Shabaaz called, I gave it some thought and it was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make in my career so far.”
“He (Shabaaz) told me that we were going to play two friendlies against Jamaica and Panama, and if I didn’t like the setup and environment in Guyana, I was free to go back to Trinidad and play – so I decided to take the opportunity as I didn’t have anything to lose.”
David’s U-turn from Guyana led him to become a five-time Gold Cup participant for the Soca Warriors having played in the competition in 2013, 2015, 2019, 2021 and 2023.
In 2021, his stellar performances for club and country earned him the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) Footballer of the Year, which he described as a “tremendous honour” following a “challenging and difficult” period after the covid19 pandemic.
Usually positioned in the centre of the defensive line, David has played at right-back and left-back throughout the years. But as far as his preferred position goes, the veteran Warrior said it depends on the team’s style of play.
“The coach and system play a big part. Personally, I like to get forward and be part of the attack. So if the team is playing in a system where the wide-backs have the freedom to run forward and track back, then I’d prefer to play at right-back – it’s more fun! But, if it’s a style where the full-back is instructed to stay at home, then I’d prefer centre-back.”
Now aged 32, David’s role as a centre-back is invaluable as he brings experience and prowess to the national team, which Eve has been wisely utilising in the Concacaf Nations League thus far.
With just one international goal on his record, David will be seeking to add to his tally – as well as continuing to secure clean sheets and guiding the team – before he hangs up his boots.
He expressed, “God’s willing – once I have life, health and strength – my goal is to get to (defend, score... anything it takes to get to) the World Cup and be a mentor to the younger ones as I’d soon be on my way out.” Captain David will lead the Soca Warriors in Nations League action again next month as T&T face Guatemala and Curaçao in the next international window.
With two wins in two matches, the Warriors currently top Group A and are in a firm position to earn a spot in the final eight, where a place in the 2024 Copa America is at stake.