DC United's newest recruit and one of Trinidad and Tobago's most talented left backs since Marvin Faustin - defender Avery John, 33, took some time-off from his busy MLS schedule to talk with 'Flex' of Soca Warriors Online about his career, passion for the game, and how God has blessed him throughout his life.
Like track-star Ato Boldon, I was quick off the blocks, desperate to know how Avery John felt about his country's chances of getting to South Africa (2010) after having two ties and one loss in their opening 2009 World Cup qualifiers thus far. I was also interested in finding out his views on being excluded from those matches and on new coach and T&T legend Russell Latapy.
John said to me. "Russell Latapy is one of the most talented midfielders to grace Trinidad and Tobago football fraternity. He has been blessed with a great gift to change a game at anytime with a pass or a goal. However, as a manager his skills and wits are yet to be tested".
"I really hope he does well. I believe he should have been awarded the job earlier in order to build a foundation. I wish him all the best".
"Two ties and one loss is not that bad but taking into consideration that we should have won two out of three games I understand the frustration. Still all is not lost. We have a mountain to climb but it is not impossible".
So Avery, have you been in contact with the TTFF letting them know that you are available for selection, will we ever see 'Avery John' in T&T colours again and do you feel you were still capable of playing at international level ?
John replied: "I have not spoken to anyone. I received a message and returned the call but have not heard from them since".
"With God nothing is impossible. Yes, I am still capable of playing at international level. As for seeing me in the national colours again, I hope its sooner rather than later but I'm not the one who makes the decisions on selecting players".
When asked if he had managed to catch any of the T&T games in the HEX and what was his thoughts on the Soca Warriors.
John said: "I was able to see the El Salvador game and thought we should have won. Lack of fitness was our biggest enemy. The USA game was a nightmare and no more needs to be said. Everyone had their say on the forum. I did not see the Honduras game. We still have a great chance of being in the top three to qualify for South Africa. Worst scenario- 4th place".
And out of curiosity John. You've played in the USL (a step down from the MLS) last season and probably thought your career was coming to an end in the top flight when you first signed. Now you managed to sign a new deal with MLS team DC United. Were you surprise at this stage in your career you would net such a deal.
John: "I never thought my career was over or coming to an end. I never doubt my abilities to play and perform at the highest level. Some of the major reasons for not playing in the MLS last season were beyond my control".
"My agent and I have worked hard in sorting things out and I have been blessed with another chance at playing at the top level of my professional and international career and I plan to savour and enjoy it to the best of my abilities".
"I am happy to be playing with DC United where they have such a rich tradition of football and a massive silverware cabinet filled with trophies and a great fan following. Now it is just to help add some more silverware with my name written on them".
But John. Why did you leave New England Revolution. I know your contract had expired, but didn't they offer you to stay ?
John: "Sometimes we are forced to make decisions that we don't want to but have to. I have to leave (New England Revolution) because of personal reasons. They (Revs) did offer me a contract but I did not accept".
"Other teams showed interest but the price tag on my head was too high. Hence the reason I had to play in the USL. I can't go into more details but it is not that black and white".
Finally, I ended my interview with Avery John by asking him what he would like to accomplish before he considered retiring from football all together.
John replied: "Qualifying and playing in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa would be the first one, trying to do a little more with sponsorship and charitable work with my community (Vance River) and surrounding areas, this list could go on for a bit".
"However, for all that I have accomplished I'm grateful for the chances, the journey and life experiences God has blessed me with and if everything stops sooner than expected I will still be a satisfied man", ended Avery John".
About Avery John
John, a rugged tackler and uncompromising defender, the left-footed John has the ability to match the fastest forwards in MLS with his speed and physicality.
2007: In his final season with New England, injuries limited him to 19 games (18 starts). He played a key role in the postseason run as the Revolution defense allowed just two goals and posted three shutouts in four MLS Cup playoff games.
2006: Despite missing a portion of the season while playing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup with Trinidad and Tobago, John settled in to contribute upon his return. The Revolution was undefeated during the regular season with John in the starting lineup, going 7-0-3 in his ten first-team appearances.
2005: World Cup qualifying with Trinidad and Tobago forced John to shuttle back-and-forth between New England and international duty. He remained an important player for the Revolution, making 13 starts in 14 League appearances.
2004: John was signed by the Revolution on May 19 and earned a regular starting place soon thereafter, starting 19 of the 21 League matches he appeared in. He scored in the 2004 Eastern Conference Final against the Columbus Crew.
John attended Presentation College San Fernando. Played college soccer in the United States for Yavapai College in Arizona and American University in Washington, DC. His career as a footballer is a well traveled one, from USA to Ireland then to South Africa and back to the United States playing for 9 clubs in the process.
Inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Hall of Fame in Tyler, Texas, on Nov. 16, 2005 … John starred as a sweeper for Yavapai Junior College in 1994-95, and was named to both the NSCAA All-America team and the NJCAA National All-Tournament teams during his playing days for the Roughriders … transferred to American University as a junior in 1996, where he played his final two collegiate seasons … John was a two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association performer and a two-time NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region honoree. As a senior in 1997, John helped the Eagles win the CAA Championship and led the team into the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Graduated from American University in May 1999, with a degree in Business Administration, specializing in international marketing ... began work toward his master’s degree in business administration during the 2007 season.
John has appeared 79 matches for his native Trinidad and Tobago national team. In his first match at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he was dismissed with his second yellow card for a rash tackle on Sweden's Christian Wilhelmsson, making John the first player to be sent off in the tournament and causing him to miss Trinidad and Tobago's high profile game with England.
Avery John was signed on April 23, 2009 after his rights were acquired from the New England Revolution in exchange for a conditional pick in the MLS SuperDraft.