Former Trinidad and Tobago Boys’ National Under-13 Team head coach and Club Sando standout Teba McKnight died today at the San Fernando General Hospital, due to complications caused by a liver ailment.
McKnight, who was just 37 years old, was also technical director for the Central Football Association (CFA), head coach of zonal club, Real Central, and ran his own coaching school, Elite Ballers Academy. He was also a supervisor at Diamond Scaffolding.
He leaves behind his common-law wife, Amarley Parris, and two sons, aged 13 and four. His elder son, Giovanni, is a member of the current Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 Team.
McKnight had been ailing for months and gave up his post as national youth team coach last September, due to health complications. From December 2019, according to his close friend Marlon Zoe, McKnight was essentially bedridden.
“In the last year, he was really suffering bad,” Zoe told Wired868.
Last Friday, he suffered a seizure and high fever and was taken to the San Fernando General Hospital’s ICU. He never recovered.
Disadvantaged financially as a child, McKnight stood out through sport. He starred for Naparima College in the Secondary Schools Football League and went on to represent Trinidad and Tobago at National Under-23 level.
His prowess helped earn him a scholarship in the United States at the University of Mobile before he eventually graduated at George Madison University (GMU). McKnight and GMU teammate Anthony Noriega were on the supplemental list for the MLS Super Draft in 2006.
Noriega, a central defender who went on to represent the National Senior Team, was selected by Kansas City Wizards but McKnight was not picked up in the draft and returned to Trinidad—where he played for W Connection, Joe Public and Club Sando.
“When Club Sando was Sando, me and Teba built that team along with Eddie Dean,” said Zoe. “As owner of Diamond Scaffolding, I hired football players to work for my company and play for Club Sando. Basically me and Teba built that team from scratch…”
McKnight was barely into his 30s when he began his transition into coaching. During a Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) ‘B’ license course, he left such a strong impression on then technical director Anton Corneal that the latter petitioned president David John-Williams to find him a role within the national set-up.
In June 2019, the TTFA’s emergency committee appointed McKnight as National Under-13 Team head coach.
Sadly, he lasted barely four months in the post before his liver ailment got the better of him. By Christmas, he was incapacitated by the pain and, on Friday, he lost consciousness.
Today, he passed away.
Remembering Teba McKnight…
Marlon Zoe, Diamond Scaffolding owner and ex-Club Sando manager:
The love he had for football was unbelievable. From as young as 13, you would see Teba McKnight training by himself from 6am before school. When he played for W Connection, you couldn’t get Teba to go play in any minor league or so—no matter how much money you offered him. He was a true professional to his craft and so dedicated.
He was like a brother to me. He grew up very poor and he had to work very hard for everything he wanted. From 2011, he worked with my company as a supervisor.
We have lost a very good person today…
Stuart Charles-Fevrier, W Connection technical director and former National Senior Team and Under-15 Team coach:
He was always a student of the game—that is why I wasn’t surprised that he went into coaching after he finished playing. As a player, he would always discuss the game with me after and talk about tactical things. I thought he had good potential as a coach and his leadership qualities were very good.[…] Teba also had a very good relationship with everybody and with his community too. He always wanted to be in good stead with everybody and was never a fellah who liked confusion… He really wanted to make a positive contribution to sport in Trinidad and Tobago.
Anton Corneal, Fifa coaching instructor and ex-TTFA technical director:
Words cannot describe how I feel… This is somebody who was close to my heart because there are so many qualities I saw in him that could make him a future National Senior Team coach one day. I saw so much potential in him.
He had a very soothing attitude [and] a lovely consistent temperament when it came to discussing and presenting the game. His football intellect was so high for a young coach, as well as his understanding of the game and his ability to articulate the game—which was way above average.[…] This just shows us one more time that we are not in control. There is a creator and he knows best. All my prayers go out to his family and close friends. Gone much too soon.