Akeem Adams was 22 years old when his body finally gave up its fight on 30 December 2013, at the Varosmajori Heart Clinic in Budapest, Hungary.
Adams had spent three months fighting for his life with a mechanical heart and an amputated leg, the amiable, dreadlocked young Ferencvaros defender from Point Fortin, Trinidad, having been found unconscious on his apartment floor in September after suffering a heart attack.
Adams never lifted a trophy or even owned a car as an adult in Hungary or Trinidad and Tobago — in fact, he spent more time in Budapest on a hospital bed than on the playing field — yet his untimely passing prompted more than a hundred headlines in the country of his birth and the one of his death.
He first came to national prominence in his homeland when he made his senior international debut on March 19, 2008, at the tender age of 16. A strong, fearless and composed left-sided defender with decent footwork, he was still a Presentation College (San Fernando) student when then “Soca Warriors” coach Francisco Maturana thrust him in the starting lineup to face El Salvador.
Maturana, a former coach of Colombia and a South American icon, was a member of the FIFA technical committee at the 2007 Under-17 World Cup in South Korea, where Adams started all three games. And, in his first opportunity to select a local-based team, Maturana summoned Adams.
It caused a minor uproar. Adams had never played competitive senior football before and was a youth team player for local Pro League club W Connection. Critics railed that Adams’ selection was a slap in the face of the country’s professional players and an indictment against the judgment of the Connection coaching staff.
There was another point that was missed: Adams had not played competitively in almost four months. Although the Pro League was in full swing that March, the various national youth leagues had finished the previous December.
The young defender was quiet and steady in a 1-0 win on his debut against El Salvador and then, a week later, played like a man in a fierce battle away to Caribbean rivals Jamaica that ended 2-2. No sooner had the praise started than Adams picked up an injury. He never played again for Maturana, and three years passed before his next senior international cap.
Questions have been raised as to why that was the case. Was Maturana’s faith and enthusiasm in Adams a double-edged sword? Did the Colombian push the fresh-faced teenager before his time and perhaps without due consideration to the physical demands of the senior international game?
Read the conclusion of this ESPN article here.