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Dear TTFA: David Nakhid’s scathing open letter on coaching changes

Former Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain and Caribbean MVP, David Nakhid, writes an open letter to TTFA/TTFF personnel past and present, Everald “Gally” Cummings, Anton Corneal, Raymond Tim Kee and Sheldon Phillip.

 

Gentlemen,

Full disclosure: There is only one member of the former TTFF regime whose hand I used to shake without immediately pouring myself a generous helping of sanitizer or heading off, if the situation allowed it, to the washroom sink. That man was Raymond Tim Kee.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee.
(Courtesy Wired868)

As for the other actors or by-standers in the now sadly familiar scenario, I consider them genuine colleagues with Anton Corneal being a childhood friend.

Turned off by public apathy, I had sworn that never again would I touch certain matters pertaining to football in Trinidad and Tobago. But when you, Raymond, produced your best Jack Warner impression by declaring that you could not pay the outstanding salaries of the ones who have already served their tenure with monies sourced from the private sector, I did a double take.

And when you added insult to injury by stating that, upon their arrival, you propose to fund the newly appointed coaches’ salaries from the same source, I told myself, like the calypsonians, that yuh trying to force mih hand and so ah put on mih guns again.

Let’s be clear from the start, Raymond, Sheldon and Anton: as president, general secretary and technical director respectively, I do not dispute that, together, you have the authority to hire and fire whomever you want whenever you want, in the full knowledge that John Public will judge you on the basis of your decisions and either laud or criticize you.

You do not, however, have the right to be duplicitous in your behaviour and your utterances towards the staff who served under you. In other words, before you cavalierly embrace the new coaches you deem it necessary to hire at this point, you have a damned responsibility to pay the ones who have already served their money.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago joint head coach Hutson "Barber" Charles (right) and assistant coach Derek King are among several technical staff members who still have not been paid. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago joint head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles (right) and assistant coach Derek King are among several technical staff members who still have not been paid.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

I am, of course, taking you at your word, Raymond, and assuming that you genuinely want to turn a new leaf and not continue the crooked and corrupt legacy of your self-serving predecessors. Why would you want to humiliate Hutson (Charles) and Jamal (Shabazz) by requiring them to be interviewed for staff jobs?

If either one agrees to this, then, in my opinion, he deserves to be fired!

But did you, Sheldon, really think this one through? If Mr Beenhakker, then why not “Gally” (Everald Cummings)? Let me explain.

As coaches, both men are way, way past their sell-by dates and their only current claim to fame is popularity with the T&T footballing public; one can understand why. Like Moses, one of them took us close to the mountain top and showed us a glimpse of what our potential could bring. Like Joshua, the other led us all the way to the Promise Land but there was not any milk and honey there, not in footballing terms anyway.

That success, Sheldon, was an isolated event in “Joshua’s” last 20 years; since then, his footballing ideas—or lack of them—have earned him the distinction of being declared persona non grata in several countries and clubs. The truth is that the game has moved well past Don Leo and left him standing.

As a motivator, he is easily the best I have seen. That is the main reason why I recommended him to (former national team manager) Richard Brathwaite and Jack Warner since 1994. But there was no shortage of footballing talent on the national scene then; sadly, it is no longer that way.

Photo: Coach Leo Beenhakker (centre), Trinidad and Tobago World Cup captain Dwight Yorke (left) and the country's record goal scorer Stern John at the 2006 World Cup.
Photo: Coach Leo Beenhakker (centre), Trinidad and Tobago World Cup captain Dwight Yorke (left) and the country’s record goal scorer Stern John at the 2006 World Cup.

So that to hire “the Don” at a time when a serious effort is needed in youth development is, well, almost laughable; you might just as well go with the far less expensive Gally.

Let me then quickly remind you, Sheldon, that, despite his many, oft-repeated protestations to the contrary, Gally was mainly responsible for T&T’s not getting to Italy. He was the coach and that, as we say in football, is the end line. He, however, continues to talk as if, under his tenure, a new type of football was invented, not to mention his outlandish boast about fostering national unity.

It’s hard to say which of these two is more laughable.

Gally, you were one of my earliest footballing heroes. Unfortunately for us both, I grew up and came to get first-hand experience of your “coaching” and your decisions as a coach. Let me say without rancour and with profound sadness, you simply are not a national team coach at any level.

I must here concede that, although Warner did it for all the wrong reasons, his decision to remove you as national coach and then keep you sidelined was probably the only good footballing decision made by the then TTFA Secretary.

Because, Gally, missing out on a World Cup even if by a single point will never be “success,” no matter how you have embellished the story as the years rolled on. Here’s a detail that you have conveniently omitted which I think the country needs to be reminded of: with the help of Warner and a few others, you sidelined a player whose only sin was to question your tactics, tactics which were, as November 19 amply demonstrated, eminently questionable.

Photo: Ex-T&T midfielder David Nakhid (left) in action against the United States. Nakhid was the first Trinidad and Tobago player to participate in UEFA club competition. But he was denied the chance to represent his country until in his 30's.
Photo: Ex-T&T midfielder David Nakhid (left) in action against the United States.
Nakhid was the first Trinidad and Tobago player to participate in UEFA club competition. But he was denied the chance to represent his country until in his 30’s.

While you and Warner told all and sundry what a bad player—and person—I was, at the peak of my career in Europe, I was blacklisted nationally for all of five years. The evidence of my career as a national team player from the mid-nineties made you eat your words, so tell me, on what basis have you been arguing for your return?

Finally, Sheldon, let me advise you to avoid populist decisions that lack vision. Consult. You and I both know that you have access to a veritable footballing think-tank. You know of whom I speak, the (Iain) Bains, the (Alvin) Hendersons, the (Ken) Butchers et al.

Did you discuss these latest appointments with them or did you just speak to Anton and dad (Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips)? I repeat, the decision was yours to make but what about the context? What about, for instance, the emphasis that your dad (one of my football mentors) placed on coaching development while he served (albeit with tied hands) as technical director? Has that gone out the window?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago technical director Anton Corneal.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago technical director Anton Corneal.

Now to end with you, Anton. What is your position on the appointment of the two new coaches? Stop hiding behind the other two and tell us:  Were you part of that decision-making disaster to have dual coaches in Jamaal and Hutson? And do you think that you have a lot to learn from the Dutchman? You do?

Well, brother, I have news for you. If, after all these years and now as technical director, you have not formed your own coaching identity and your own philosophy about this beautiful game is not yet clear inside your head and in your soul, something is wrong.

If you don’t yet feel you have the strength to tell whomever that this is not the right way forward in our football development, then something may be wrong with me.

But, truth be told, I think I’m okay.

Your brother in football,

David.

About David Nakhid

David Nakhid
David Nakhid is the founder and director of the David Nakhid International Football Academy in Beirut, Lebanon and was the first Trinidad and Tobago international to play professionally in Europe. The two-time Caribbean and T&T Player of the Year and cerebral midfielder once represented FC Grasshopper (Switzerland), Waregem (Belgium), POAK (Greece), New England Revolution (US), Al Emirates (UAE) and Al Ansar (Lebanon).

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12 comments

  1. Roy Khan like the million and one coaches TRINIDAD HAS ,YOU ALL HAVE THE SAME MIND SET. NEARLY IS FAILED IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD. FOR PAST DECADES WE HAVE BEEN LOSING ALL OUR TOP TALENT TO OUTSIDE UNIVERSITIES, THIS IS WHY UTT WAS IMPLEMENTED AND COACHES LIKE MR CUMMINGS WAS HIRED TO KEEP THEM HERE. HAS UNIVERSITY PLAYERS HELPED OUR FOOTBALL IN ANY WAY? WHILE THIS GAME HAS EVOLVED AND LEFT LOCAL COACHES AND OUR FOOTBALL IN A BACKWARD PLACE. NOT UNTIL LEO BEENHAKKER CAME TO OUR RESCUE AND SCRAPED US THROUGH TO A WORLD CUP. YOU ALL STILL THERE WITH GALLY. NEARLY, NEARLY IS FAILED. JUST AS YOU ALL’S MIND SET.

  2. What is your “EVIDENCE” that the modern game has passed Gally Cummings ? Did one of your present Senior national team goalkeepers play for him? How many of his recent players have been recruited { stolen} and given scholarships to top USA college teams like University of Connecticut? and University off Akron? On the other hand, not too long ago, after he left the Trinidad National team, I watched The Poland National team which was coached by Beenhakker. What a Disaster. There are tapes of these games. Trinis, get your facts straight.

  3. we need to set aside the personal differences and look at the way forward. i accept Mr Nahkid’s comments towards Mr Gally… is time we in TRINIDAD LOOK DOWN THE ROAD AT THESE COACHES FROM THE PAST WHO HAVE SERVED US TIME AND TIME AGAIN AND FAILED AND LOOK FORWARD NOW. MR BRIAN WILLIAMS AND ALL THE FORMER STRIKE SQUAD PLAYERS WHO FEEL THE NATIONAL TEAM COACH MUST BE ONE OF THEM, MOVE ASIDE. YOU ALL HAVE FAILED AND FAILED TIME AND TIME AGAIN. STEP ASIDE. THIS IS A MODERN GAME. YOU ALL AND MR GALLY NEED TO COME TO TERMS WITH THIS MODERN GAME.

  4. Finally someone with the testicular fortitude to speak the truth. After all these years my brother you have decided to speak, your next step is to do something about it then, if nothing changes then we will have to hate it in our hearts until the last day. I will be watching and listening to you and will support you for our youth’s future. Peace be upon you.

  5. steupsssssssssssssss

    Those who are commenting I wonder if they had the privilege of playing for Mr. Cummings as David Nakhid did? Additionally, truth tends to be distasteful because most times it hits at the heart of the matter. I think the piece was well written, to like it or not is totally the reader’s choice, but we must not just defend someone because they had everyone wearing red. And those who saw hate in the article may need to take an internal view. Some of the issues mentioned in the article needs to be considered and those that may be worth no consideration, then so be it.

  6. I consider myself privileged to have witnessed a small part of the career of a prolific coach, Sir Alex Ferguson. The silverware amassed is a testament to his greatness. Even so, both myself and (I dare say) the entire world spent an inordinate amount of time speculating about his temperament based upon the rumors about what went on in the locker room. From the scar on Beckham’s face, to the Roy Keene debacle, to CR9’s fall from Sir Alex’s graces, to reining in of Yorke’s playboy persona……I can go on and on. But let me get to the point. Upon his retirement, the gushing tributes had me wondering if all that time speculating on the Sir’s character, would have been better spent counting the stars in the night’s sky.
    This could only lead me to two conclusions.
    1. The negatives were all fairy tales concocted by the media, or
    2. Most of those tributes were lies and the locker room rumors were true, however, because of his national standings and accomplishments in football, his upliftment would be far more beneficial (to THE COUNTRY, THE WORLD and THE GAME) than his derision.
    Mr. Nahkid. from someone who loves the beautiful game and Trinidad and Tobago, with regards to Mr. Gally Cummings, could you not have chosen the latter conclusion?
    #steups

  7. Everald Gally Cummings

    Mr. Indiscipline, yes you Nakhid. How did Mr. Cummings got into your article when it was about TimKee and the present coaching assignments. i really didn’t see the relevance. If you have been following what’s happening in the football world you would have realized that Gally never asked to be National Football Coach. You are so blinded with hate that you are bitter because the Strike Squad was a discipline team and you just wasn’t good enough. Why are you blaming Gally for your disrespectful character? Was it Gally’s fault that you were in jail in Lebanon? Was it Gally’s fault that you and the New England coach in the MLS had serious problems and you have had problems with most coaches in your footballing life? Have you forgotten when you accused the strike squad of stealing your track suit and brought police to the team hotel in St. Lucia before the game in Honduras, 1988? Do you want me to go on?
    If Gally didn’t remove you there would have never been a Strike Squad. Do you know that it was Gally who stopped Jack Warner and Peter O’Connor from making you Persona non Grata?
    He also gave you your first chance at national football just on the recommendation of a former team mate of the New York Cosmos, John Kerr. Talk about ungrateful.
    My advice to you is: please grow up because if anyone is out dated is you.

    Mrs. Charles

  8. While I am no fan of David Nahkid and found his writing somewhat distasteful; he hit the nail on the head with some points. Messrs St. Clair, Gally and Leo have been great coaches but the modern game has gone beyond them.

    The REAL issue is that the game continues to go beyond our players! We lack consistent & professional youth training, development and international competition. We could bring Sir Alex et all, but if you put an engine with technical faults in a BMW, it will not perform.

    Just look at the level of football & coaching that is offered at youth football [most crucial age of development] and it will be evident – private coaching clinics, zonal leagues, youth pro league & secondary school football.

  9. Mr. Nahkid I just read your spiteful diatribe which was aimed at Gally Cummings. First of all Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United “kicked” Roy Keane off of Man U for questioning his tactics. So who do you think you are for questioning your coach’s tactics? How can you compare Leo Beenhakker, a coach that have been given the World’s best players in several countries to Everald Cummings who built the ” Strike Squad” with a bunch of young unproven amateurs and 2 players who were playing in the Jamaican league. We of African descent in the USA were glued to our television because we had never seen anything like this in team sports. . We were all bitterly disappointed at the outcome but we saw the solid foundation and we knew that this Coach would be immensely successful on the “world stage”. Then your corrupt cohort Austin Jack Warner blacklisted him in 1989. The reason was, and the whole world knows that it was because he refused to read a concocted and false statement about the overselling and overcrowding of the stadium.
    You state that the only good footballing decision Warner made was to remove Cummings and keep him sidelined. What does Jack Warner know about football? What team did he play for? Jack Warner was the main sidekick of Sepp Blatter who created a “quasi Government” with its own set of rules, equal or superior to other governments, with ” the bait” being the World Cup and its attached tremendous sponsorship bounty.. Do you have any morals Mr. Nahkid? To you the Means that were used to remove Mr. Cummings justifies the end. Though it seems that you live in a large country , you still possess the “SMALL ISLAND” mentality of many of your representatives and leaders. It would be helpful to know at what point, you were “kicked” off the Strike Squad, and how many games they won and lost without you and the names of the teams that they played, Was Bahrain one of them.

  10. None Of The Above

    I agree with some of what Nakhid said but I think he was unfair on Gally. The entire country was wearing red and we were playing great football. How could that be a failure? I blamed the overselling of the stadium and other issues for us missing out on Italy!
    Check what Ron La Forest said here: http://newsday.co.tt/sport/0,179499.html

  11. But Nahkid could write!