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Look trouble now: Glen lifts the lid on his T&T career secrets and W/Cup injury

“Up to this day, people still label me as a troublemaker,” ex-Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup attacker Cornell Glen told Wired868. “But if standing up for what you believe is right and what you believe you are worth is being a troublemaker, then I will be a troublemaker for the rest of my life…

“Since I started playing for the national team, there was no (health) insurance. So when a player gets injured, which has happened to me on numerous occasions, you get nothing from the national team.”

The 35-year-old Glen, who now earns his living playing professionally in India, has never been one to mince words. He spoke to Wired868 recently in a wide-ranging interview that covered his club and international career.

In Part One, the gifted former St Agnes Anglican Primary School and Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive student discussed the birth of his football career and his troubles on and off the field:

Photo: Former North East Stars striker Cornell Glen (centre) takes the 2013 Toyota Classic Cup from Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene (left) while Toyota marketing manager Sean Shaffie looks on. (Courtesy Kenroy Ambris)
Photo: Former North East Stars striker Cornell Glen (centre) takes the 2013 Toyota Classic Cup from Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene (left) while Toyota marketing manager Sean Shaffie looks on.
(Courtesy Kenroy Ambris)

Wired868: How did you get started in football?

Cornell Glen: I started playing from about 5 or 6 years old. I was just playing on the streets with my brothers or against the bigger guys on the basketball court in Cocorite. I never went to any coaching school.

I have seven siblings; it was four boys and four girls. We all played sports, whether it was football, basketball or netball, and there was always competition. I was the second to last child and third boy. (His younger brother, Cyrano Glen, plays for Saddle Hill Hotspur and is a former Pro League player with San Juan Jabloteh)…

Then, I used to see it as every minute playing was a minute out of trouble… Later on, you start to see your potential and realise you can make a living out of it. And it can be a way out of the ghetto and to have a good life.

Photo: East Mucurapo Secondary player Tekay Hoyce (far left) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the winning goal in the 2014 Coca Cola National Intercol final against St Benedict's College. Glen first came to national prominence as a Mucurapo schoolboy. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: East Mucurapo Secondary player Tekay Hoyce (far left) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the winning goal in the 2014 Coca Cola National Intercol final against St Benedict’s College.
Glen first came to national prominence as a Mucurapo schoolboy.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: Can you tell us about when you turned professional?

Glen: I had played with the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team for the deceased Arthur “Jap” Brown and he brought me into (then Pro League team) Futgof straight after I finished school (at Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive)…

The idea they sold me on was great because it was all about developing youth players to move them overseas, which is why so many young players at the time migrated to Futgof. But financially it didn’t work out (for the club).

I got the chance to go to Portugal then when I was just 19 but I came back after two years. It didn’t work out. I found out that my Portuguese agent (named) was (allegedly) taking money from the club to keep me there (in the Second Division) rather than looking for opportunities for me to go on to bigger and better.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Cornell Glen during practice at the Germany 2006 World Cup.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Cornell Glen during practice at the Germany 2006 World Cup.

Wired868: What do you mean? And how did you find out?

Glen: I was playing for AD Sanjoanense in the Second Division at the time. And, after about two years, I had started to understand Portuguese. So I was reading an article and saw that a club in the First Division was interested in me. And I started asking around to see why nothing was happening.

And I started getting news that he was taking money from the club. So I called my manager, Michael Awai, back home and we eventually found out from someone inside the club that it was true. They were (allegedly) paying him under the table to keep me there as long as possible.

I got upset and I just wanted to go home. Awai organised a trial for me with Peterborough (then in the equivalent of England League One) and they liked me but I had no national caps. They were asking if I had any family ties or so to England (that might help get a work permit) but I didn’t have any.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen collects his thoughts after striking the bar against Sweden during the Germany 2006 World Cup. (Courtesy www.bbc.co.uk)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen collects his thoughts after striking the bar against Sweden during the Germany 2006 World Cup.
(Courtesy www.bbc.co.uk)

Wired868: So you returned home?

Glen: Yeah. I decided to come home and play with San Juan Jabloteh. I played for a year under (then coach) Terry (Fenwick) and a year under Ricky (Hill). In my second year under Ricky, I got an offer from China. At the time, (ex-Trinidad and Tobago internationals) Gary (Glasgow) and Arnold (Dwarika) were in China.

They were offering a lot of money there. It was around US$10,000 a month. And at the same time, I got the offer from the MLS (US Major League Soccer) and they were offering around US$38,000 a year.

So I had a big decision to make. Whether I would take the money and run and probably get lost in China. Or go to the MLS and it could probably help my career in the future.

I went to the MLS. I didn’t make a lot of money but it helped me in terms of learning and gaining exposure and being seen by the national coach.

I think it helped me a lot and it was the right decision.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes striker Cornell Glen dribbles past an opposing goalkeeper during MLS action. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: San Jose Earthquakes striker Cornell Glen dribbles past an opposing goalkeeper during MLS action.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Wired868: So how did your senior international career get started?

Glen: I played my first game against St Kitts in November 2002. I think it was either Stuart Charles (Fevrier) or (Hannibal) Najjar. Actually, I don’t think I played any game under Najjar. That was when I was blacklisted.

(In fact, Glen made his debut under Najjar and won two senior international caps in the Caribbean Cup qualifying round before he was among 19 players, including World Cup 2006 players Kelvin Jack and Brent Sancho and then team captain Travis Mulraine and vice-captain Gary Glasgow, who were banned from the national team on the eve of a friendly against Finland).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kelvin Jack wrestles with Paraguay forward Nelson Valdez (left) during the 2006 World Cup. (Copyright AFP 2014/Roberto Schmidt)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kelvin Jack wrestles with Paraguay forward Nelson Valdez (left) during the 2006 World Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Roberto Schmidt)

Wired868: How did you manage to be blacklisted from the national team before your international career had even properly begun?

Glen: The conditions were rough then. They were offering about US$200 a game and we were eating bread and cheese after practise. Literally! A few of the senior players spoke to us and we decided to stand up for what was right.

But then someone from within the team went back and told the coach and word got out. And, the day before the game, they brought in a whole new team with mostly players from the Army (who are forbidden from industrial action) and blacklisted everyone who was going to strike…

I wouldn’t say I was a rebel back then… But the conditions were really bad and we had no one to stand up for us. The coaches weren’t going to stand up for us. As a young player, I was 21, I told Kelvin (Jack) and Travis (Mulraine) and the other senior guys that if you’re striking, I’m supporting you guys 110 percent.

But they just brought in 15 soldiers and some other players and played the game (against Finland) and we were blacklisted.

(Najjar called up 10 overseas players for the subsequent Caribbean qualifying round for the 2003 Gold Cup. But Trinidad and Tobago were eliminated and the coach was sacked).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen (front) jumps for the ball with United States defender Oguchi Onyewu during 2010 World Cup qualifying action. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen (front) jumps for the ball with United States defender Oguchi Onyewu during 2010 World Cup qualifying action.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Wired868: How did that incident, so early in your international career, shape your future as a Trinidad and Tobago player?

Glen: Up to this day, people still label me as a troublemaker. But if standing up for what you believe is right and what you believe you are worth is being a troublemaker, then I will be a troublemaker for the rest of my life.

I don’t think players should be playing under those kinds of conditions… We have to respect a player’s worth. Since I started playing for the national team, there was no (health) insurance. So when a player gets injured, which has happened to me on numerous occasions, you get nothing from the national team.

I have lost (job) contracts, I have lost my playing position, I have lost so much from playing with the national team and getting injured. And when you stand up you are victimised for it. I think it is totally wrong and unfair to the players.

And the younger players will never understand it until they go through that.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forwards Cornell Glen (top left) and Kenwyne Jones (top right) have a laugh during treatment at a pre-2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup training session. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forwards Cornell Glen (top left) and Kenwyne Jones (top right) have a laugh during treatment at a pre-2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup training session.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: Can you give us examples of times when you were injured and suffered those things? 

Glen: The first time that I got injured on national duty that really affected me was in 2004. We were playing against Guatemala (on August 10) and Gary Glasgow broke his foot in that same game.

I was playing for (MLS team, New York/New Jersey) MetroStars at the time. I joined the team (in March 2004) about five or six games into their season. I worked my way into the starting team after two or three games and I scored three goals from four games with the MetroStars and then left after the fourth game to play with the national team.

And I totally messed up my ankle against Guatemala and ended up with torn ligaments. I totally struggled through the season and eventually finished with six goals and I didn’t get any compensation. The second time was at the (2006) World Cup.

Photo: Physiotherapist Zeph Nicholas (top) motions for a substitution as Trinidad and Tobago attacker Cornell Glen (bottom) lies injured on the ground during 2006 World Cup action against Paraguay. Looking on are captain Dwight Yorke (right) and Stern John. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Strength and conditioning coach Zeph Nicholas (top) motions for a substitution as Trinidad and Tobago attacker Cornell Glen (bottom) lies injured on the ground during 2006 World Cup action against Paraguay.
Looking on are captain Dwight Yorke (right) and Stern John.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Wired868: Well, at least you would have been taken care of after the World Cup injury…

(FIFA provides insurance for players who are injured at the World Cup, which the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation had access to).

Glen: Definitely not. I didn’t get so much as a phone call (after the World Cup) and I didn’t get a cent… I lost my contract at the (MLS club) LA Galaxy because I had a one-year option and they didn’t pick it up since I didn’t play again for the rest of that season.

I got absolutely nothing from the national team after that injury… There is a lot of stuff people don’t know and don’t understand. (The TTFF/TTFA) doesn’t care about the players. A lot of this stuff happens on a regular basis.

You look at the situation with Dwight (Yorke who broke his leg while representing Trinidad and Tobago as a 19-year-old) and people wondered why he didn’t want to play for the national team and give 100 percent.

It is a sort of risk versus reward situation. The risks are high playing with the national team but the reward is not there other than pride. And when you ask to be compensated properly, you are victimised.

Photo: LA Galaxy striker Cornell Glen (foreground)  keeps the ball away from a Chivas USA defender during MLS action in 2006. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: LA Galaxy striker Cornell Glen (foreground) keeps the ball away from a Chivas USA defender during MLS action in 2006.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Wired868: How long did it take you before you recovered from your knee injury at the 2006 World Cup?

Glen: It took me a year before I started training and a year and a half before I was back to full fitness. And I had to spend my own money!

Galaxy paid to do my surgery and my rehab until the end of my season, so I was thankful for that. After that, I had to come home and pay for my own rehab. I spent at least TT$40,000 on rehab here in Trinidad.

The third time it happened was (on 9 September 2009) when we played the US here (in a 2010 World Cup qualifier). We lost 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and I played the whole game, played well, went to Zen, had a good time, woke up in the morning and couldn’t walk.

When I went back to San Jose (and yet another MLS club, San Jose Earthquakes), my MCL was torn…

(Glen pauses, exhales and appears to compose himself).

The national team has helped me a lot, so I don’t want to be ungrateful or complain. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities as a national player. But it cost me a lot too, especially in 2006 when I thought if I went back to Galaxy fit, I might still be in the MLS making a lot of money and enjoying what I do.

It is something when I think about it I get emotional sometimes. Because you give so much to the national team physically and emotionally. And then at times like now when the national team abandons you and says you are too old. It hurts.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE for Part Two of our exclusive interview with Cornell Glen, in which he discusses: His relationship with ex-Trinidad and Tobago and Real Madrid coach Leo Beenhakker, the magic of the Germany 2006 World Cup and his exit from the national team under current coach Stephen Hart.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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111 comments

  1. Lasana Liburd great article brother

  2. That’s why the ttfa needs to run by people who care about football and the players ..that will give them the benefits to perform well

  3. I believe this young man. Doing anything in SPORTS in T&T is a fight .stand up and you are ostracised.

  4. Great article the present team should read this before playing in the Hex and be inspired by Glen

  5. Hannibal Najjar

    When we have some time maybe we can talk about the “bread and cheese” days and my time as Head Coach and Technical Director. The recalls of an emerging, in-search-of self, feisty (to his own acknowledgement), impressionable, 21-year old can be represented by another’s account especially when that other had serious care and concern for his motherland, all of his players, his country’s bid to make its first World Cup mark, and the holistic development of all of its people. Nothing when worked little for can achieve the same as when worked hard for. A couple of little thoughts here will help my point – “when you don’t pay, you don’t pay attention” – all successful persons pay and have paid for that makes them pay attention and soon enough that, in turn draws attention. Secondly and very importantly is what I was sincerely all about and that was my goal of making a true champion of every single person that would be associated with my efforts…. “A true Champion being, one who gets up when lame, shares the fame, and always takes the blame”; this is a creation laid on my heart, tongue, and pen that resounds over and over in my head, soul , and actions and is at the heart of successful people and teams. Cornell Glen has bitter feelings that might be justified but especially young people and people in a new environment (as with T&T football as a professional brand) they need good guidance and sound counsel for it is on these hinges, that one future swings. When you are ready Lasana Liburd, we can set a date to talk about the state of football over that now, belittling “bread and cheese” period (with Cornell and significant others) and my thoughts on going forward as a serious nation is all areas of representation and not just football. And, that is why, unless developed holistically and with care and concern and NOT CONTROL, we’d always be spinning top in mud with the mud tightening and tightening as water would be drying up; that water being sweat equity!

  6. Specialty Insurance Services and AON insurance brokerage offers group insurance packages for 35 payers and staff for just under $10,000.00 TTD a year. I’m not charging for this advice eh (lol) but maybe some partnership arrangement can be brokered to have these folks on board as a sponsor.

    • Well seeing that the TTFA president is an insurance salesman. And even when Cornell and the other guys were playing without insurance, Tim Kee was a vice president…
      Then I wonder if it was a priority at all.

  7. Lasana Liburd…good work. I look forward to your articles..

  8. Great article, we need a lot more like this to hear the other side of the story… We as fans can be too quick to judge the players when we don’t know all the circumstances.. Looking forward to part 2.

  9. I feel for the likes of Cornell and his once compatriot, Josh Johnson and many others. Cornell was one with a tremendous amount of playing ability, potential, and strength of body but, of mind as well and he would have blossomed into that kind of example that would have been the sperm for making better players. He was a closest to a blend of a David Nakhid and Russell Latapy as there can be. He had nearly all of the tangibles and intangibles to be our best ever footballer – style, skill, and productivity at the fore. Travis Mullraine had similar attributes and together under close and carefully “loving” nurturing, a mentality would have been allowed to germinate in our soil for ages to come. The only trouble maker Cornell was, was trouble for the other team – he would have been every team’s nightmare. I have a story to tell but, when and for what cause!

    • Roneil K Walcott Give me one solid reason/useful purpose that “the story” would serve and what would be the positive ripple effect/impact it would serve – tell me, convince me! Tell me anyone!

    • What is the point of keeping an idea to oneself? There is no value in that Hannibal Najjar.

    • Hannibal, your in-depth knowledge on the issue can only be beneficial to the ears of those whom hear your story (i.e) administrators, coaches and players. If Glen had nearly all of the tangibles and intangibles to be our best ever footballer, then it would be nice to know why he hasn’t been able to fulfill such great potential. And “the story” may also answer questions as to why so many gifted, young footballers fall through the cracks in TnT football.

    • Keeping it to oneself may, in and onto itself, may not be either a bad or good thing Lasana Liburd, but the question begs, what productive purpose will/does it serve? And, if it is all for naught; if it does not add to the recovery or installation of something that assembles a better moving ship en route to an “island” of well-meaning and one for the betterment of the greater whole, it is wasted air, burnt-for-no-reason, fuel. This only releases worrying fossils into an already contaminated “air”, would you not say! If it only brings back memories to people that have their versions of the stated historical occurrences, or just causes fission of those memories, then it only causes the librarian to move the “facts” from one shelf to another in the archives. Seriously, for this to serve any beneficial purpose, it must be of a stated interest to the Football Association as it contemplates spring-boarding into a planned future – then, we can see a purpose and then I will usher in key persons, beginning with the recently hoisted Sports Minister, beckoning all to soul search in order to add to the “architecturing” of a sustainable football game-plan and add to a deserving hope for our, youth. I am inclined to join in this effort but it shall not serve as a palangre for gossip on the Devil’s radio. We all must be fiduciaries in this cause. I am not interested in a fork-ended journey, Lasana. Change that, convince me, then you get the essences of those misguided moments and minds and also, the self-centered, and in those searches, maybe, the clandestine.

  10. First Start with the Metro Stars. Probably my best performance ever.
    http://youtu.be/itTzVcQXQsk

  11. That was world class Cornell Glen #Skillz

  12. Hmmmmmmmm God will trully bless him… Hope he raises his head and help clubs or even become a great coach as well… Think down the road now today for today…

  13. A wonderful header from Cornell Glen to equalise against Panama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq0g_J0mWaA

  14. Wow!!!!!!!! Great goal but we in trinidad didn’t see enough of him and what about the other players who stay quiet…. I think the TTFA needs to seriously address the issues and aggressively not tip toe plus the media needs to continue to point them out and make the public aware…

  15. Readers want a video clip… So here is one special goal for Cornell Glen during his time with MetroStars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zkbo5awvBQ

  16. I remember Latapy was injured during the 1998 World cup qualifying series against Costa Rica. He returned to Portugal. Nobody even asked him how he was going. He didn’t hear a word from the TTFF.
    And then as soon as het got back on his feet… Bang! A fax from the TTFF demanding that he shows up to represent his country!
    Right Wayne Mandeville?

  17. We really need a body to look after the wellbeing of athletes.

  18. Glen was a good player. I’ll never forget the bullet he unleashed vs SWEDEN IN 2006. He played well in the 2013 Gold cup as well. I think the league in India is below his level.

  19. Great article we need more articles as this so people can understand both sides.. I personally can take away a positive where I work…. there is a lot of things happening here , you work hard but yet you don’t get truly compensated for it and I mean money wise while the company is making money and they are positing it up… I don’t believe in unions because if u treat staff right and compensate them correctly you wouldn’t have problems…. Again great article and more articles should come out… it should have videos as well….

  20. Do the FA need to take out insurance? Why can’t the Clubs do it?

  21. I forgot about Dwight breaking his leg. I rmember the 92 Shell Cup under Gally where he was our only pro who came back and he lost teeth or something. He never come back for “meaningless” games after that

  22. This just show the sad state of our football. …. so much talent and potential but yet still players are disenfranchised by the ttfa… more so the malignancy and stagnation of the progress of football in trinidad is all thanks to one man…… ex fifa vp jaw

  23. So fucked up! Glen you’ are a warrior brotha! You’re sacrifice means a lot!

  24. Very shocking to hear that those were the conditions the players were playing under. And particularly unfortunate for Cornell who could have reached even greater heights if not for the mishandling of his injuries.

  25. Lasana Liburd great stuff. Cornell Glen awesome. Thank you for the insight. No water! No tape! No insurance! What!? All present at highschool practices in the states.

    • Imagine players leaving premier league clubs and coming to play with no insurance eh Prince?
      But it is worse for the guys who just have one year deals with tiny clubs. A serious injury can mean they are out of contract with no money coming in.

    • In hindsight, I bet if they can do it over they may not play. In a way they probably feel like they owe it to the national team because they got the opportunity playing for Trinidad. And it’s a huge honor to play for Trinidad. They didn’t have insurance through their club. Or if they are making some money! I would have taken out my own insurance

  26. It hurts to hear these stories but they must be told. When you guys wear the national colours you represent all of us. Your skill set has taken us to places we may not otherwise have been. If a promoter were to offer me bread and cheese as part of my package I wouldn’t leave home, why should it be different for you. The fact that this has been going on for years speaks to a perverse sense of acceptance. Keep sharing the truth, not for the baccahanal, but to provide a platform for change. Cornell Glen, Kelvin Jack, et al. I sincerely apologize and thank you for your sacrifices, rebel or not, fair is fair and right is right……… Keep it coming Lasana Liburd, I’m hoping to one day become a fan again.

  27. Coaches chain up coaches so I guess somebody inside Hart’s head how could you not pick him

  28. I loved Cornell Glenn as aplayer he played with a lot of heart.

  29. I cant believe he wasn’t taken care of after the 2006 world cup ….. freaking shocked. …..not surprised about some of the stories but hearing it still sets me back ……how can anyone respect the ttfa organisation? …and now the latest troll (Tim Kee) as soon as elections are coming trying to do things now …. Hypocritical bitch!!

  30. RESPECT Cornell Glen….will never 4get he & Kerry Noray out playing Chicago Fire at Hasely Crawford. Didn’t understand the blacklist & the effect on so many guys 🙁

  31. Glen should be on this team still a goal scorer is a goal scorer how much goals Jones has in 10 games not even 5 stueppp please

  32. Actually it was TTOC for athletes in certain sporting disciplines not footballers so maybe similar arrangements should be explored for football.

  33. Well done Lasana Liburd and Cornell Glen on this lovely Article but it seems like things have never changed since Players is still owed Gold Cup Salaries ,outstanding Flight monies ,no management care towards players needs imagine we have players traveling far distances Via Economy and then we wonder why our players look so tired .All we study is the winning part but what about making these players happy and excited to represent this country I must hail these players and the staff for sticking out these tough times and I really Wish the public gives them that support by attending matches filling the stadium and being that 12 th man can only be the moment of progress on the field the off the field battles seems to continue once again ….

    • After Akeems Adams’ passing, they announced a merger with a medical company that gave players free check-ups before national tournaments. I can only hope that is still operational.
      But no insurance.

    • They should get some legal advice on that because if I get injured on the job, there’s workmen’s comp. So idk why it would be legally acceptable for players to get injured on the job and the TTFA not have to compensate players one way or the other.
      And even when we organise youth sporting events we get insurance for the day in the event that anything happens to any of the kids.
      But I actually don’t know if we do that because it’s legally required or if we are just smart and caring about it.

    • Well, I am certain that I checked after the World Cup and the TTFA had applied for the fund provided by FIFA in case of injuries.
      So it is a serious matter that he says only he and his club paid. But not out of character at the time.
      UEFA always fumes when their players come back injured after playing for nations like ours. Because of course you are ensured with national teams like England.
      But then it is a cycle since European teams take talent from the developing world for a pittance.

    • Extremely rough for players who are often on short term contracts though. Few T&T players are on better than year to year deals or two years at the most.
      So getting injured on the job is very serious.

    • I think that sometime ago Guardian Life put some sort of insurance in place for the national footballers. Lasana, I know you have good sources so please check on this.

    • Actually Lasana it was TTOC and Guardian for national athletes in certain disciplines. My bad.

    • And the TTFA president is a Guardian Life director eh. :-/

  34. An interesting comment from the coach at the time, Hannibal Najjar: Glen was never a trouble maker but just as he says – he spoke his mind and that in understandable given his youth coach, Arthur “Jap” Brown and, my then Captain, chosen Travis Mulraine. That was a period in our local football that had a promise of great things – a local team was in the building that would have achieved monumentally more than any other of all time. A sad day for us when the players went on strike. So much went asunder, all, just in a selfish flash!

    • According to Kelvin Jack, the players did not go on strike. Here is an excerpt of an interview I did with Kelvin in 2008 where he addressed the issue:

      Q: Let’s start with FPATT. When was it’s genesis? In January 2003, Finland came to Trinidad & Tobago to play a friendly match. I remember it clearly because it was Kenwyne Jones’ debut for the senior team. He got the chance because of a strike by the players.

      KJ: It was not a strike.

      Q: Well the players refused to play because of the lack of proper medical equipment, water, bandages etc. Basically, the conditions were not conducive to professional training. The players felt that it was not correct and the situation needed to be addressed. Najjar was the coach at the time. Subsequent to that, the players got called back and we had a failed Gold Cup campaign. A player association was then formed, of which Shaka’s father had a role, but soon went dormant. You and Brent Sancho were also prominently involved. Then, after the World Cup, we had the emergence of FPATT. Was it a continuation of what went on in 2003, or was it something brand new with a different focus?

      KJ: FPATT was actually formed back in 2003. Brent Sancho, myself, Travis Mulraine, and Gary Glasgow were at the forefront of it. You know, I always think about these guys, Travis Mulraine, Gary Glasgow, and the sacrifices they made towards trying to form a players association. Unfortunately, we were blacklisted at that time. Blacklisted for what? Blacklisted because we wanted to ensure that there was water at training. We wanted to ensure that there was tape, so people could do their ankles before training. We wanted to ensure that when someone finished training in 34° Celsius weather that they could get carbohydrates back into them, meals and so forth. Blacklisted because of that? I found it to be absolutely shocking. A lot of people thought we went on strike. We never went on strike, we wanted to negotiate. All we wanted were the things I just mentioned. They probably felt that we, the stupid players, should not be asking for those things. Some other players went and played the friendly, and I find it funny now. Because some of those same players are complaining about things that the Federation have done in the past. But they saw it fit to betray their fellow professionals and go and play for their own personal glory. At the end of the day it is their decision. Whether it is a right or wrong decision, history would give a verdict on that. They decided that they would go and play because they didn’t mind being treated that way. Around the world, where does that happen?

      Q: Now do you think the reason for that is because some of the players were not exposed to a professional setup? Plus, we have a way in Trinidad & Tobago where we just accept things, shrug our shoulders, and say “wha yuh go do?”

      KJ: We were not asking for caviar, or to be drinking champagne. We were asking for water, tape, basic things for a footballer to do his job, nothing spectacular. We were not asking for anything that wasn’t to be expected in a football team.

      Q: Did they give you a reason why they were unwilling or unable to provide those things? Was it a money problem?

      KJ: I can’t remember the exact reasons they gave, but the fact of the matter was that we didn’t get those things. All we got was banned.

      Q: But that dispute got resolved in a fairly short order.

      KJ: Yes, it was resolved fairly quickly, but it should not have happened in the first place. It should have never happened.

    • Nigel Myers, there was something I was told then by a senior member of the coaching staff that I didn’t reveal at the time.
      The allegation was that although Brent Sancho gave interviews as one of the senior players who were standing up for the rights of the entire group and essentially assumed the position of spokesman… He secretly begged the coach to let him play against Finland and blamed others for the mess.
      Of course he denied it. I can’t say I was ever fully convinced by his denial at the time. But I put it down to something he might have done in a moment of panic.

    • That seems odd, because if Sancho did play and the others didn’t, it would even be more bacchanal and raised eyebrows.

    • Didn’t mean he didn’t ask. I think the players were stunned when they realised that the Jack Warner-led TTFA was quite happy to play with a B team.
      What has happened in the future showed that he does not care too much for what others thing once he benefits somehow.

    • In any case, the coach can reveal it himself if he wishes. But that was what I was told. Oh. Why I gave it credence is that I went to the final training session to talk to Hannibal Najjar and was surprised to see Sancho there on the sidelines.

    • Lasana Liburd Small correction here for my statement on selfishness was not levied “the players” (suggesting all) as you stated – namely, “Hannibal believes the players were selfish”.

    • Ok. So you are referring to the senior players?

    • Lasana Liburd a sad but most meaningful part of my life is being brought back to life and 40/40 backward thinking foresight assures me that everything would be approached and pursued differently. Do note too that much of the information being shared here represents some part of the truths as they occurred, but Nigel Myers seems to have the best account thus far. The entire episode is still so very clear, and all, including the “bread and cheese” and “medical equipment” and so forth, do have their very own sets of messages and hoped-for outcomes. Maybe, Lasana Liburd we can give some thought to the fact that I might be willing to share the near 8-month long experience . Believe me, there is so much to share that might just assist us

    • Well, feel free to do so Hannibal Najjar. In a blog if you wish.

    • As I said back then the entire episode shouldn’t have occured. To this day I’m shocked it was allowed to happen. But the complete crap that happens in Trinidad and Tobago makes this normal. I’m hopeful the new PM has balls to implement positive change. Unlike the incompetent nincompoops there before.. Anyway, back to football.. We were asking for basic necessities. But again the administrators felt they were too important. They had the attitude of how dare these players challenge us. Their thinking was rather primitive and dismissive about very relevant basic problems. The players who played were clowns as far as I was concerned but I forgive them because they were weak at the time. Kenwyne was one, but was young, and he is certainly not weak. He is turning out to be quite an effective leader. A good boy and a good captain. A players captain. It’s quite troubling we are yet to correct the ills that continue to blight our football. I do feel confident it can and will change. When? I’m not sure but football people need to run football. Good strong characters who have hard work and discipline in their DNA. I acknowledge Hannibal Najjars points and I actually like him. But he wasn’t strong enough back then. We all make mistakes and in my opinion Hannibal made an error by not standing with us. We live and we learn so as disappointed as I was back then I wouldn’t hold his inaction against him.

    • Wow very interesting read and information Lasana Liburd

    • It would be great if we can get everyone to clear the air and come together as Kelvin Jack said for football. The players, both past and present, are suffering while everyone bicker.

  35. That’s why it is good to learn the language of whatever country you’re living in eh.

  36. Glen was never a trouble maker but just as he says – he spoke his mind and that is understandable given his youth coach, Arthur “Jap” Brown and, my then Captain, chosen Travis Mulraine. That was a period in our local football that had a promise of great things – a local team was in the building that would have achieved monumentally more than any other of all time. A sad day for us when the players went on strike. So much went asunder, all, just in a selfish flash!

    • You think the players were selfish?

    • They were misguided and not respected by an undermining few.

    • So were the conditions as bad as they said? Cheese and bread, lack of medical equipment, poor match fees…

    • Lasana Liburd the conditions today, 12-13 years later, are no different. I would love to feel that the time is upon us to share the value of those bread and cheese days and what really prevented the good taste of butter from being added, and the making of a rock-solid home-made team.

    • I don’t think those situations are comparable to the training sessions under Stephen Hart at all. In large part because Hart refuses to get the team together unless there are certain things in place.
      But I know a lot of youth teams go through that.

    • This was a quote from Kelvin Jack in a previous interview on the blacklist withe SocaWarriors.com.

      Excerpt: “KJ: We were not asking for caviar, or to be drinking champagne. We were asking for water, tape, basic things for a footballer to do his job, nothing spectacular. We were not asking for anything that wasn’t to be expected in a football team.”

    • Misguided or not the condition for a national setup was beyond poor. Plus we didn’t get the chance to strike. The officials got word of it and instead of addressing our concerns they blacklisted us.

    • There is so much to this Cornell Glen than you and I and KJ and any other could speak of in this medium. Notwithstanding, the conditions were far from what we needed, but, I was committed and was hoping to create a situation from inside the country that would have forced the hands of the powers at that time.

    • Lasana Liburd Indeed what Hart has today, as “shallow” as it seems, and though somewhat similar, are not as trying as what we endured. Further, Hart is not in any position to not get together if the timetable dictates that he does. What he faces, given a 17/5 foreign-to-local squad selection, shelters him from the trials of week-in-week-out training and those tiring episodes with the T&TFF. What we faced then was tied to our efforts to train and prepare a totally local side with a select 5 -6 being brought from abroad when competition begins.

    • Fair enough on the last point Hannibal Najjar. But I really believe the TTFA could have done better. I remember in those days it would be one treatment for the national team if Dwight Yorke or Russell Latapy were involved, another treatment if it were less glamorous foreign-based players, and then something different again if it was “just locals.”
      That is unfair.

    • Your point here Lasana Liburd is true as it is true for any other country. The difference – it is just the level of attention that those other countries give their team and overall effort is more than when their stars are not included. It is more because they have more vested in the internal program and future plans (do not get me wrong, I believe that people the world over, are inclined to seek out for themselves, but some are more reasonable in their measurements as they dole out accordingly). This is even true of lesser rich nations like Costa Rica, Panama, and soon you will see, Nicaragua and Curacao and other such – they have a futuristic mandate and one that though might be still embryonic, is solidly fed by a better functioning umbilical, nutrition, and pulmonary systems than we have ever had. And, it doesn’t need an OB/GYN version of Ben Carson to facilitate this pediatric need – it just needs selflessness and a truth and trusting heart and a mind for the creation of better, brighter, and safer futures for our children. It needs a simple understanding that we are better off serving our youth and their futures; it is better off when we leave things better than we had been given. We need to only see that our children’s futures make for a better life for all in the immediate, and mediate, and beyond. Plant dates, not tomatoes – the latter’s harvest is way shorter in its coming! It is not difficult, we just need to envision a future with what we are currently doing and then, offset it with a framing of my own namely, a selfless, 40/40 backward thinking foresight, game plan (some speak of 20/20 forward thinking hindsight – 20/20), and the smiles on all faces and brighter futures, will abound. A simple change of heart is the seed that is needed. And, as with all seeds, it is only until it dies, can they produce and multiply.

  37. There were three notable senior team debuts made in that Finland game: Kenwyne Jones, Kerry Baptiste, and Anthony Wolfe. Must have also been the first and last time that Kenwyne was brought on as a sub only to be later subbed himself.

    The Gold Cup tournament that Najjar failed to qualify for was 2003, not 2002.