Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams has apparently already played his last game for defending Pro League champions DIRECTV W Connection after being told by coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier that he will never represent the club again.
Williams, 28, had a stellar 2012 on the field as he helped Connection to pip T&TEC FC to the league title on the final day of the season while he steered the “Savonetta Boys” and the “Soca Warriors” to second place in the Caribbean Cup club and international competitions respectively.
Charles-Fevrier, who gave Williams his senior debuts for Connection and Trinidad and Tobago, has always been his biggest fan. But a training ground confrontation looks to have shattered their professional relationship and Charles-Fevrier said that there will be no coming back for the talented goalkeeper.
“I don’t want Jan to play for me again,” Charles-Fevrier told Wired868.com. “I don’t have anything against him. He is a player I have supported tremendously and I would have no problem in giving him a recommendation to play outside. But he will not play for me again.
“I feel very strongly about and, if I have to sacrifice my job for my decision, I would.”
National midfielder Clyde Leon was named as Connection’s new captain although veteran Elijah Joseph would lead the squad out against Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA from 8 pm today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium as Leon is nursing an ankle injury.
Leaders Defence Force tackles North East Stars from 6 pm in the first game of a tasty Pro League double header.
But Williams, arguably the Pro League’s top goalkeeper, will not be involved and is unlikely to wear Connection’s colours again.
Connection chairman David John Williams, according to coach and captain, has supposedly backed Charles-Fevrier’s decision and confirmed as much to his goalkeeper through a written statement. Wired868 was unable to reach the chairman for comment.
The fall-out between the pair stemmed from a disagreement that took place almost two weeks ago, in front of the squad, during a video session.
Charles-Fevrier was admonishing his team for a feeble performance and Williams defended the players in a manner that the coach felt to be disrespectful. The pair clashed verbally and the Connection captain walked out of the session.
The goalkeeper told Wired868 that he had not meant to be disrespectful to anyone but believed he was justified in speaking up.
“I apologise to the coach or any member of staff or player who took offence to my actions,” said Williams. “But I think it was well justified. Sometimes you just have stand up for what you believe is right.
“I didn’t want to be rude or insubordinate anything like that and I’m sorry if some people didn’t take the message in the way it was intended.”
The two men have spoken briefly just once since the incident and Charles-Fevrier said the damage to their professional relationship is beyond repair. It is uncertain whether Williams ever apologised directly to Charles-Fevrier but the Connection coach said it would not save the goalkeeper’s job.
“If he had to apologise, it would have to have been right after the session,” he said. “It is too late to apologise now. It is not a decision I enjoyed making but it is one I felt I had to make.
“Jan left me no choice by walking out the training. He disrespected me as the coach of the team by doing that.”
Williams did not contradict his coach’s account but said he was disappointed to leave in this manner despite an unblemished disciplinary record since he joined the club in 2002.
“I don’t want to air dirty laundry in public,” he said. “Stuartie was the first coach to select me for the national team and 90 percent of what I learned in football, I learned from him. But now it looks like time for me to move on.
“I just think that, after one incident in nine or ten years, to be treated like this from the club is disappointing…
“I guess at the end of the day (the club chairman) decided the coach was the most important part of the process here. Everything happens for a reason.”
Williams was not in the squad last Saturday when Connection defeated Central FC 3-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium and it seems that a 3-0 loss to Defence Force in the Toyota Classic Cup on 30 November 2012 was the goalkeeper’s swansong.
The “Soca Warrior” remains under contract at Connection until March and told Wired868 that he will not seek a move to another Pro League club. Instead, he will turn his attention to abroad.
“I don’t want to play for anyone else in the country,” said Williams, “because of the respect I have for the club for what they have done to me in the past. My heart is (with) Connection and I don’t want to be part of another club.
“My intention for now is to go abroad; although things can change fast in football… I am getting older and I still want to try and play at the highest level while I also have to consider my situation with the national team and the (2013) Gold Cup. God will guide me, I guess.”
Williams represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and signed a contract with Sheffield United soon after but failed to get a work permit. He had stints in Belgium and Turkey but returned home, in 2011, after his then employer, Belgian third division team Royal Olympic Club de Charleroi-Marchienne, went bankrupt.
Connection took him back and Williams helped the club to its first League title in seven years. In the process, he edged ahead of Central custodian Marvin Phillip for Trinidad and Tobago’s number one jersey and was named international captain to boot as the Warriors stormed up the FIFA rankings.
But 2013 has not started well for the goalkeeper.
Charles-Fevrier admitted Connection is losing a talented player but insisted that the club would go on. He noted that, last season, Connection triumphed although the club loaned out then captain Hughtun Hector to Vietnam and lost five starting players to Olympic qualifying duty.
“Jan has done very well for the club and he is in the top two goalkeepers in the country,” said Charles-Fevrier. “So we have definitely lost a good player. But I will work with who I have and try to be successful.
“There are never any guarantees in football. Jan can be here and we can win and he can be here and we can lose. I don’t dwell on who is not here, I dwell on who’s here…
“We always need to be humble because football can build you up today and take you right back down tomorrow.”