The Soca Warriors were thrown into mourning on the eve of their international friendly match against Barbados after the sudden passing of 19-year-old former Holy Name Convent student Nikela John, who was the daughter of Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coach Stern John.
Nikela died yesterday at her Cunupia home owing, according to a TTFA Media release, to medical causes still to be determined.
The 40-year-old John, who is Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time record goal scorer, was on his way to a National Team practice session at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva when he received a call that his daughter was unwell. He was excused from national duty and rushed to her Cunupia home.
Nikela, who was born in Trinidad but spent much of her childhood with her father when he played professionally in England with a host of clubs including Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest, was pronounced dead later that evening.
Warriors head coach Dennis Lawrence offered condolences to his colleague and former World Cup 2006 teammate, who is not expected to be on the bench tonight when Trinidad and Tobago face Barbados from 7pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
“We want to extend our condolences to Stern and his family and also let him know that we have him in our thoughts and we share in this time of grief with him,” said Lawrence. “We know that no amount of words can really help to ease the pain he is bearing but we we pray that the comfort of God helps him and his family through this difficult time.
“Stern is one of us and we will give him the time and support he needs right now and welcome him back at the appropriate time.”
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams also offered words of comfort to John.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Stern today,” John-Williams told the TTFA Media. “This is indeed a difficult time for him and his family as well as our TTFA family. As president, I will like to urge Stern to stay strong.
“Words are difficult to find at this time to say to him. We ask for God’s blessings upon him at this time and may she rest in peace.”
John is also an assistant coach at Pro League champions, Central FC, where his son, Tyrik, plays as a striker. The club has expressed sorrow at the loss of both employees.