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Aunt Phyllis: Saintfiet is defaming Cyrus; T&T defender had just one glass of Bailey’s!

Does one glass of Bailey’s on New Year’s Day constitute excessive drinking for a professional athlete?

Phyllis Andrews, the “aunt” of 26-year-old Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team defender Daneil Cyrus, insisted that national head coach Tom Saintfiet has defamed the Soca Warriors player. And she is urging Saintfiet or the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to clear Cyrus’ name.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (centre) and Dr Terence Babwah (left) talk to defender Carlyle Mitchell during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (centre) and Dr Terence Babwah (left) talk to defender Carlyle Mitchell during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

Saintfiet dropped Cyrus and 22-year-old national midfielder Jomal Williams and told the media that the players missed their noon check-in at the Cara Suites hotel on New Year’s Day and smelt of alcohol.

“Two of the players came one and a half hours too late in camp and had still decent smell of alcohol around him (sic),” said Saintfiet. “That was Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams. Both were immediately sent home, back to party—but are replaced in the squad.”

Aunt Phyllis admitted Cyrus was late for their residential camp in Claxton Bay. However, she is offended by the insinuation that the versatile W Connection player turned up for national duty reeking of alcohol.

“If [Saintfiet] says the other fella was drinking, he has to prove that too but that is their business,” said aunt Phyllis. “You can drop [Cyrus] for any other reason but don’t say he was stink of alcohol. That boy never came in my house stink of alcohol. And I open the door most of the time for him because he always loses his keys…

“So I want them to clear that up.”

Cyrus did, she admitted, have a glass of Bailey’s. The national defender told Wired868 yesterday he did not touch alcohol that morning. However, he confirmed that he had one drink.

Photo: W Connection defender Daneil Cyrus (left) tangles with Atlantico FC flanker Adrian De Jesus during 2016 Caribbean Club Championship action in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection defender Daneil Cyrus (left) tangles with Atlantico FC flanker Adrian De Jesus during 2016 Caribbean Club Championship action in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

She insisted there was a social context that should not be overlooked, though. It was New Year’s Day and just one glass of “weak” alcohol. Don’t players in England, Belgium and other European countries, she asked, have a drink to celebrate too—once they do not end up drunk?

“He slept by me that night and he left from my house to go to camp,” she told Wired868. “We had a family lime and my children don’t get to have much time with him anymore, so they are always happy when he is around.

“He had just one drink and they were laughing at him and saying ‘Bailey’s boy?!’ I have all the alcohol in the world in house and he would hardly drink. All he would say is ‘Ms Andrews, I am taking a shandy’.

“So I really, really take offence to this. This is tarnishing the boy’s name.”

Aunt Phyllis first opened her Santa Rosa Heights home to Cyrus a decade ago when the Plymouth-based teenager needed a place to stay in Trinidad to train with the National Under-17 Team.

She was friends with the mother of National Under-17 forward Stephen Knox. One day, Knox’s mother introduced her to then National Team manager Chris De Silva who asked whether she would give a place to stay to a teenaged boy she had never met.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's Daneil Cyrus (centre) hurdles Mexico player Adrian Aldrete (left) while his teammate Carlos Pena looks on in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.     (Copyright AFP 2014/ John Amis)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Daneil Cyrus (centre) hurdles Mexico player Adrian Aldrete (left) while his teammate Carlos Pena looks on in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
(Copyright AFP 2014/ John Amis)

“[Knox’s mother] asked me if I could take him and then Mr De Silva and Daneil’s mother came and met me,” said aunt Phyllis. “Daneil was 15 and he has been with me ever since. I have two younger children and everyone welcomed him with open arms, so we are all like family.

“If anything, my children felt I spoiled him. But they are like brothers and sisters.”

Cyrus went on to play in two World Youth Cups for Trinidad and Tobago—the Korea Republic 2007 Under-17 and Egypt 2009 Under-20 World Cups—and cement his place in the National Senior Team.

Aunt Phyllis gave her account of what happened on New Year’s Day, as Cyrus set off for his noon check-in time with his national teammates in Claxton Bay.

“He left [Santa Rosa Heights] about 11am and, when he was in the back of St Helena, he got a flat,” she said. “So he had to call another partner [to come and help him since he did not have a jack]. He called and spoke to the manager [Azaad Khan] and the manager said: ‘Okay come… The coach is really upset but still come’.

“[Cyrus] wasn’t sure of the time [he spoke to Khan] but he thinks it was before 12… I know he left by me a little late and he could have been earlier. But he would have been on time, if not for the flat he had.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016. Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams (second from left) welcomes new National Senior Team coach Tim Saintfiet (second from right) during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel on 7 December 2016.
Looking on is new general secretary Justin Latapy-George (far left) and technical director Muhammad Isa.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Aunt Phyllis said she called W Connection co-founder and TTFA president David John-Williams to complain today.

“I called John-Williams and he said he is not charge of the team and that is the [coach’s responsibility],” she told Wired868. “But he said that could be fixed. He said: ‘you know he has a reputation of being late for Connection practice’. But what does that have to do with this? I am dealing with the defamation of character with the [coach claiming the] boy was smelling of alcohol.

“I don’t have a problem with him being dropped for being late. But not for alcohol.”’

Wired868 asked John-Williams to confirm if he said said Cyrus’ issue could “be fixed” and what he would have meant by that. But, although he read the message, he did not respond up to the time of publication.

The website was unable to get further comment from Saintfiet, Jomal Williams or national team manager Azaad Khan.

The Soca Warriors face Suriname from 7pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Wednesday in the first game of a round-robin series, which also includes Haiti. One of the three nations will advance to the next Gold Cup playoff round against Central American opposition.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Carlos Edwards (left) takes on Sweden midfielder Anders Svensson during the Germany 2006 World Cup group B opener on 10 June 2006 at Dortmund stadium.  Edwards is the captain of the current Soca Warriors team. (Copyright AFP 2016/Odd Andersen)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Carlos Edwards (left) takes on Sweden midfielder Anders Svensson during the Germany 2006 World Cup group B opener on 10 June 2006 at Dortmund stadium.
Edwards is the captain of the current Soca Warriors team.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Odd Andersen)

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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427 comments

  1. Does anyone have a link for the live-stream of the game tonight?

  2. bacchanal in sports , what’s new in T&T. what’s the real deal here?

  3. Go read about Jermain Defoe for Sunderland , a true professional never drinks alcohol thats why at 35 he is stil terrorizing defense and scoring goals

  4. Unlike you skiled and knowledgeable gentlemen my football know how is not as sharp. When there is noise in the stands then something good may be happening.Discipline is discipline though and I think it helps with success. It seems our players thought that it was a fete match like what is usually played by men in nighties on Christmas morning with licquor flowing and no order. I think it could be a good start to new beginnings.The thoughts of a loyal supporter..

  5. I fully appreciate your efforts Lasana.

  6. I never need to be in the mob Lance. I try very hard to get information so I can pass it on to readers. If I knew just as little about a topic as everyone else, I would be useless to readers.

  7. Everyone else is sticking to your original post and discussing indiscipline,while you and Keith are talking coaching ability.

  8. Lasana,It seems that only you and Look Loy hearing what you two are saying.Look at all the other posts.

  9. ..CARLON!! FOR REAL THIS TIME!! GOOD NIGHT Y’ALL!!..

  10. Lol. Lance Noel, if you google Look Loy and Dwarika your question would be answered. You just are not listening to what we are saying. So this is a waste of time.

  11. All I ask is a simple question sir.

  12. ..Lance. You really don’t know about football do you? Or about me?..

  13. BAIT! I CYAH RESIST BAIT!! BUT OH LAWD!!!!!..

  14. Would you have sent home two of your best players if they turned up late for practise,while also smelling of alcohol,Keith Look Loy?

  15. You can put Trini Don as coach and he might drop the players too. Would that necessarily make him a great coach Lance Noel?

  16. Keith LookLoy I tort u gone….

  17. I do not know about coaching or about this coach.What I do know is,he has earned my admiration with his handling of indisciplined players ,so far.

  18. ..You debating for spite. Several comments above you liked my comment:..”And I ain’t vilifying anybody by saying that. But I not getting tie up and doing cartwheels because a coach with a shit CV drop some men. If he does well I will praise him..”..

  19. Based on the coach’s ”failure everywhere”,I guess you are laughing already,Mr Look Loy.