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Shannon Gomez #14 of Trinidad & Tobago runs with the ball during a game between Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago at CITYPARK on June 28, 2023 in St. Louis, Missouri.(Photo by Bill Barrett/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Right back Shannon Gomez was recalled to the national senior team in 2021 after a five-year hiatus. Since then, he’s worked assiduously to now become a regular face in the set-up.

Gomez, 26, was part of the Trinidad and Tobago men’s football team which churned out back-to-back victories against Curacao and El Salvador in the Concacaf Nations League A recently.

Wins in their two upcoming matches against Guatemala at home (October 13) and away to Curacao, four days later, will affirm T&T a spot in the quarter-finals, and draw them closer to a possible berth at the prestigious Copa America next year.

The San Antonio FC (United Soccer League) player has one goal and a couple of assists for his nation and wants to use their last two victories as fuel to continue striving towards returning T&T to the top of the Caribbean.

With a recent jump in the FIFA rankings, which carried T&T into the top 100 nations, from 102 to 98th, Gomez wants more.

“I’d like to see T&T football continue making strides, the recent jump in the FIFA rankings is good but I want us going back to being a powerhouse in Caribbean football.

“Not only here but internationally as well, with teams wanting to play us. Seeing T&T go back on that international map, with respect, it takes time, but I want to be involved and contribute, to give 110 per cent for the red, white and black,” he said.

He hailed the Nations League’s recent results as a positive step but Gomez is hell-bent on consistency. The winger wants T&T to regain their competitive respect in the world of football.

He hopes these results, and those to come, inspire the younger generation to keep working.

“I want to inspire another young one or generation to take up that mantle when it’s that time to carry T&T football to greater heights. That’s what I want to see.

“With me being in the set-up, I want to enjoy flying the flag, but also winning at a high rate, playing against top opposition that allows us to get the best possible mix, allow people who are eligible to represent us.”

Looking ahead at the upcoming contests, Gomez said the mentality in T&T’s camp is highly motivating, and he believes they can carry that winning momentum into the next stage.

Six points is the only goal for Gomez right now.

“It’s important to pick up maximum points to put us in the best situation to qualify for the quarters. It would be a massive achievement to be much closer to Copa America.

“Just having an opportunity to play amongst the best in the region. It’s important to put ourselves in the driver’s seat in the group. That would allow us to maintain our place in league A and potentially qualify for the quarter-final round and we need to put our best foot forward.”

When asked what formula would achieve such success, Gomez said it must be a total team effort.

“We have to check our egos at the door and let’s come in and give it our all; play with grit and respect. Grasp the opportunity to make somebody proud. These are things that I strive to do and a lot of guys have the same goals for themselves.

“It felt good to put ourselves in a position to stand up to teams. There was a time when teams feared us. Allowing ourselves to feel and do that will be the ultimate feeling. Contributing towards it will allow us to do that.”

Gomez started playing football at a young age with Waterloo Institute then transferred to a minor league club St Mary’s United from Freeport/Carapichaima, where he grew up.

He transferred to San Juan Jabloteh from age 11 to 17. During those years, Gomez played for St Augustine Secondary “Green Machine” in the Secondary Schools Football League and captained them to the Coca-Cola Intercol title in 2013.

He played national U17 and U20 football and climbed the ranks.

In 2015, he transferred to W Connection and played half a season with the club. That year, however, he received his first national call-up, and debut, against Panama, under then-coach Stephen Hart.

The next season, he went to trial to New York City FC in MLS, signed a contract on loan from Connection, went through a tough injury that same year, and while recovering from the injury, the US club decided to make it a permanent deal and they bought him fully from Connection.

Gomez spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons there and that’s how he started his career in the US.

In 2018, he moved to Sacramento Republic (USL) and played four seasons there until 2021. Last season signed with San Antonio FC and is now into his second year.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday