Thu, Nov

What really happened on November 19 th 1989? Trinidad & Tobago needed just a draw at home in order to book its first appearance at the World Cup finals, but instead lost out on that golden opportunity. There has been never ending speculation since that day as to what went wrong. Was it a mistake to travel all the way from the camp at Forest Reserve to Port-of-Spain on game day? Was it over confidence? Was it a lack of commitment? Give us your thoughts.
Obviously after November 19th 1989, we were in a better position to identify what went wrong, all our mistakes, and what we did and did not do. Yes, we would admit that there were some mistakes which I call oversights, or the occasion rose above the rest. What I am saying is that our entire World Cup campaign was spent at the camp in Forest Reserve. For all our home games we traveled from Forest Reserve and it was not a problem. Why I am saying it was an oversight and the occasion rose above the rest is that no one was expecting on the day of the match for people to flock the camp site in huge numbers. People formed human barriers on the highways, people literally blocked the road wherever they knew the team bus was passing and it seems to me that this created some sort of mental pressure on the players. I don't think it was anything like over confidence but we were all confident of the task ahead. Yes, there were concerns about doing things differently but we decided that we would continue doing the things that we usually did because those were the reasons why we were successful until that time. Which mean, and I would always say that the occasion rose above the rest and obviously we can admit that we made some mistakes. To me psychologically there were some problems, it's difficult for me to identify them but our key players never seemed to get off on that day and this was a major concern to the team. Sometimes things do happen for a reason and the team being very much spiritually inclined, we all have to say JAH KNOWS BEST. In the future, I do hope in all aspects that we learn from our mistakes.

Someone made an interesting comment that we did not even receive a yellow card in that game. In my eyes, it suggests that we did not play with any aggression. Was it a case of nerves or was the situation just overwhelming?

Not getting yellow cards in the game was not the issue. The real issue is that the team did not perform to its fullest potential. Everything was comfortable amongst the players but for some reason we did not perform as we were expected too, and this is the burning question even today among the players and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe some psychic or psychologist might be able to provide the answer to those questions.

You were cited as one (if not the only) player that gave his all that day. How do you rate your performance in that game?

Rating my performance is always difficult for me to do. I always leave it up to the people. Every time I go on the football pitch I play for the people, I play for Trinidad & Tobago. As a sportsman, I always try to give my best. On that day, I knew how important that game was because it's a footballer's dream to play at the highest level (the World Cup) and also for Trinidad & Tobago to advance to the World Cup.

Do you still reflect on that game and wonder what could have been?

Oh how wonderful that would have been. Obviously, that game has been painted permanently in our minds. If we had won that game, today we might have been all better off in many different aspects of our lives. But as I say, JAH KNOWS BEST.

What moments do you savor the most from your football career?

Uniting Trinidad & Tobago and our relationship with the young people of our nation, especially the school children.

How did it feel for your playing days to come to an end due to being banned for testing positive for marijuana? Do you see it as a blot on your career?

During that time, I was contemplating on retiring from competitive football. Yes, being banned confirmed my decision but I never saw it as a blot on my career. I am a Naturalist, I am a Rastaman, with no apologies. I served Trinidad and Tobago football with great pride, honesty and sincerity. I have no regrets.

Since November 19th 1989, the football fortunes of the United States and Trinidad & Tobago have gone in opposite directions. In the case of the former, it has gone from strength to strength, whilst in the case of the latter, it has gone steadily downhill. We have more players playing professionally in foreign leagues but the national game has suffered. Why do think this is the case?

After November 19th 1989 it seems to me that the TTFF had no continuation plan. We were all focused on qualifying for the World Cup and did not have a contingency plan in the event of not fulfilling that task. We were left in no man's land. I always say it is important for the TTFF to have a proper plan and structure that would be able to take our football from point A to point B. Unless we have those things in place, we would always be recounting various problems. It is sad to know that the standard of football that Trinidad & Tobago was playing in the late 80s early 90s have deteriorated so tremendously. In the wake of revitalizing football in T&T I do hope that the TTFF would recognize all of their mistakes, forget personalities and work in the best interest of football in Trinidad & Tobago.

Recently we have had a string of poor results against Caribbean teams who we used to trounce on a regular basis. Does this indicate that those teams have gotten better or does it indicate that we have regressed?

As we all can recognize, the football gap in the world today has narrowed tremendously. Due to modern technology, there is no secret in the game today , but definitely our football as regressed a lot.

Our most successful coaches (Everald “Gally” Cummings and Bertille St. Clair) have been local coaches. Why do we feel that we have to look abroad when our locals have demonstrated that they are up to the task?

This is a question that the TTFF would have to answer. It is probably symptomatic of the old saying, “local ting nah good, foreign better”. But they should remember that the times when the Trinidad & Tobago teams performed at its best were under local coaches.

Do you have any aspirations to be part of the national setup at any level?

I always do. I have spent all of my life in football. Football has given me the majority of the things that I have achieved in life thus so far and now it is time for me to give back something to the game. Trinidad & Tobago football is always close to my heart and I'm very much optimistic that one day we will do well. What I did not achieve as a player I would like to achieve as a coach.

As a former national player, were you supportive of the strike that was carried out by the national team earlier this year or did you think that it was a bad idea?

I don't have all the details and reasons for the strike but due to my past experience as a player in Trinidad and Tobago the players don't have a voice and this is not right. All over the world in leading footballing nations there are players associations and in T&T there is none. The TTFF must be mature enough to accept an association of its kind; too long players are treated with disrespect when they are the main ingredient in the game. I as a coach now always work in the best interest of the players but the players also have to recognize that they have a responsibility too. So if the strike was bona-fide and in the interest of the players then I would say that I supported the strike.