Wed, Jul

Devon Jorslyn (in yellow shirt).Soldier of fortune off to Middle East.

Trinidad and Tobago striker Devon Jorsling left the Piarco International Airport on Tuesday afternoon on a flight to Dubai that will take him just under 24 hours to complete. It is a long way to go for respect but the 25-year-old soldier is desperate for a new challenge.
Al Dhafra Sports and Culture Club, a United Arab Emirates First Division outfit, were on the hunt for a target man with physical presence and an eye for goal. Their search led them to the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League and the Defence Force number nine who topped all domestic scorers with 29 goals in all competitions.

Jorsling and Al Dhafra will size each other up, over the next two weeks, before agreeing to an initial six-month deal. The prospective move might put the left-footed striker outside the radar of national senior team coach Francisco Maturana. But then his performances at Pro League level did not do as much as expected and Jorsling hopes that success on foreign soil, albeit in the Middle East rather than Europe, would show his potency in any environment.

"It is a good opportunity to come up against different guys," Josling told the Sunday Express. "It will test me. Who knows; it might help me to get a better look in the national team."

The former Malick Secondary Comprehensive student has never been afraid to blaze his own trail.

Jorsling, a Morvant resident, got much of his early football education in south Trinidad as a W Connection youth player. At 17, he toured Venezuela with the Connection senior team but his failure to immediately break into the senior ranks prompted him to switch camps to Caledonia AIA.

At 18, he scored two goals in his debut season with the "Eastern Stallions" where he was understudy to Warren Butler and Trevor Puckerin. But then came a setback which proved to be a turning point in his career.

Jorsling grabbed headlines with a double strike as the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 squad whipped hosts Suriname 4-0 to advance. But he suffered a broken leg in the process and was unavailable for the next round as T&T, who also had Kenwyne Jones and Clyde Leon in their ranks, were eliminated by Cuba.

Jorsling was unable to kick a ball for two years while, as his Caledonia contract had expired, his mother, Charmaine Jorsling, footed the medical bills and saw about his financial needs. The five-foot-eight striker saw his weight soar to 230 pounds as he moped about his misfortune.

"My mom begged me to join the army when I recovered," he said, "so my future could be more secure and I would still have a job if something like this ever happened to me again."

Jorsling still remembers the lonely evenings when he jogged around the Queen's Park Savannah and then peered in his mirror at home and struggled to see improvement as he fought with his weight.

"I felt like (my comeback) wasn't going to happen plenty times," said Jorsling. "I was trying to do the correct thing and I wasn't seeing any improvement. But I felt I was too young to give up."

Lieutenant Henry Charles, the then Defence Force team manager, arranged enrolment for the podgy striker and the rigorous army training sorted him out. Jorsling repaid them with goals.

He was his club's top scorer in three from five seasons at Defence Force and, in 2008, was arguably the only credible challenge to Clico San Juan Jabloteh captain Trent Noel as Pro League MVP. He has scored against every club in the top flight.

Defenders who got too close were often held off by his upper body strength and left clutching air as he cleverly swiveled past them. Those who backed away discovered the range and ferocity of his left foot.

His link up play is good too. Jorsling has a sure first touch and an eye for the early pass.

The devastating speed is missing, though, and it might explain why Maturana, who seems to favour long, early balls behind the opposing defence, has routinely overlooked the forward. His aerial game is average too.

Still, Jorsling insists that he can flourish in any system and three goals from one start and three substitute appearances under the Colombian coach suggest he has a case.

"I do feel disappointed that I didn't make the Caribbean Cup finals in Jamaica," said Jorsling, whose crucial goal against Guyana put the "Soca Warriors" there in the first place. "I play in the Pro League and the most I can do is to try to be the best in the Pro League and I think I was (statistically).

"I don't have the speed of a Cornell Glen but what I lack in speed I make up in technical ability. Stern John wasn't fast nor Jason Scotland. I don't know how they look at it. But at the end of the day it is the coach's decision."

Trinidad and Tobago seem overstaffed with forwards at the moment and Maturana has preferred to play with just one at any given time.

At present, Jorsling is behind in a queue that includes Jones, John, Glen, Scotland, Errol McFarlane and Andre Toussaint. There is more quality in the fringes too with the likes of Darryl Roberts, Jerol Forbes, Conrad Smith and Jamal Gay also hoping for a shot.

If all goes well at Al Dhafra, Jorsling hopes to make his own international case from a few continents away. McFarlane was a surprise pick from the Lebanon league for the Caribbean Cup and his three goals there could not have harmed his case for a squad pick. Jorsling hopes his United Arab Emirates adventure, if it gets going, is at least as beneficial.