On the opening weekend of the 2013/14 Digicel Pro League season, St Ann’s Rangers was flattened 7-0 by present leader DIRECTV W Connection. It was an omen of things to come in a difficult season for the St Ann’s based club.
Twenty-year-old Jelani Peters was not even deemed good enough for the substitutes’ bench for the Rangers team that lost to Connection. Today, Peters wears the captain’s armband on occasion and has caught the eye with skilful, athletic performances in a handful of positions including left back, left wing and central midfield; even though the Rangers team is destined to finish the season at the bottom of the standings.
Peters is accustomed to starting late though. He was 12-years-old when his elder brother, Jesse Peters, who is a reserve goalkeeper for Caledonia AIA, coerced him into the giving football a try.
In just over a year, Peters broke into the Tranquility Secondary School team and, eight years later, is catching the eye as a professional footballer.
Wired868 caught up with Peters for a one-one-one:
Date of birth: 17 December 1993
Hometown: Diego Martin
Position: left back
Former school: Diego Martin Boys RC and Tranquility Secondary School
Favourite player: Gareth Bale
Favourite team: Arsenal
Favourite food: Corn casserole, bake chicken, green fig salad and stew chicken.
What is something most people do not know about you?
I wasn’t always interested in football but my brother, Jesse, influenced me into the sport. He taught me the basics.
What makes you stand out as a player?
Definitely my height and skill, as a young footballer, make me stand out.
What pushes you to succeed?
My family—father Franklyn Peters and mother Vanessa Peters—influence me to push myself. My mother attended most of my games and always asked questions about training and showed interest in my career. She gives me encouragement when I need a confidence boost.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I would describe myself as humble, peaceful and caring.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy watching action and animation movies by myself.
Who was your most important coach or coaches?
My most important coaches are Mr Jason Spence and Gilbert Bateau. Bateau is important because under his coaching expertise I learnt things that made me stronger mentally and emotionally. Spence is the type of coach that builds relationships with his players. He’s an important coach because he gives me advice that improves my game. I just want to thank God for him.
What were your best and worst moments in football so far?
My best moment happened when Central FC coach (Terry Fenwick) interested in me after one match that I played well in. (Rangers lost 3-2 to Central in that outing on 21 December 2013).
My worst moment occurred when I was overlooked after training the entire pre-season; another footballer joined the team at the beginning of the season and took my position for the first game against W Connection. Added to this terrible experience of having to watch the game from the stands, I saw my team lose 7-0.
What is your target for 2014?
I want to develop a greater passion for the sport and continue to work towards one day joining the national team.
What would be success for you as a player?
Success for me is representing Trinidad and Tobago and then playing club football in England if the opportunity arises.