Born and bred in Sherwood Park, Arima—a tough area known also as the Congo—Elton John played football to escape the harsh realities of his childhood.
Raised by his grandmother, Julia John, John remembers losing his favourite uncle to a drug addiction. But his own focus never wavered as the former St Augustine schoolboy vowed to use his talent on the ball to make a better life for himself and his family.
Now, the 27-year-old Central FC defender, who is already an eight-year veteran of the Pro League after spells with San Juan Jabloteh and North East Stars, plays the game as his bread and butter.
John took time out from his Central FC duties to have a chat with Wired868:
Name: Elton David Wallace John.
Date of Birth: 8 April 1987.
Height and weight: I am 5 feet and 8 inches and 170 pounds.
Position: Currently, I am a neutral player. I do however prefer to play as a midfielder. (John has played mostly in central defence this year).
Hometown: I am from Sherwood Park, Arima also known as the Congo.
Former school: Arima West Government Primary School, then St Joseph College and finally St Augustine Senior Comprehensive… St Joseph College was more work oriented while St Augustine had a football team.
Favourite player: Ronaldinho (Brazil).
Favourite team: FC Barcelona.
Why are you called Broady?
I got the nickname from bawling plenty during my childhood. Also people can hear my mouth from far.
What is it like to live with the famous name Elton John?
Once people hear that my name is Elton John, they usually harass me and ask if I am gay just like the singer. I don’t let any of that bother me though as the constant calling of my name helps to get me in the spot light.
What is something most people do not know about you?
I am always smiling and happy but they don’t know the struggle I had to get where I am today.
What struggles did you face when growing up?
I grew up without my father and was raised by my grandmother. My mother was around in the earlier part of my life but she got married and moved away to Blanchisseuse. She took my sisters and my grandmother offered to help by raising me.
Since my grandmother raised me, I was able to play football. I believe that I would not have been able to play football if I was living with my mother in Blanchisseuse.
While living with my grandmother, however, I grew up without much guidance and I had to witness one of my uncles, who my family and myself adored, turn to drugs. That really hurt me.
How would you describe yourself as a person?
I am loving, understanding and have a strong determination. My background also prepared me to deal with unwilling people.
How did you start playing football?
I grew up playing football in the basketball court in the Congo. I saw my family play and it was a way for me to relax and escape while growing up.
Who had the most influence on your career?
My grandmother, Julia John. She supported me and pushed me and always made sure I reached to training and to my games.
Do you have any family member that plays football professionally?
Yes. My cousin, Jason Marcano, who is now playing at Central FC with me.
Who was your most important coach/coaches and why?
Dave Weeks from my primary school team, Michael Grayson from St Augustine and, last but not least, Terry Fenwick (Central FC). I believe each coach always has something to teach you and I listened to them. Terry helped me to understand the game better.
What makes you stand out as a player?
My ability to adapt and work rate. I believe I am fairly good with ball handling and finally my ability to read the game.
What does it feel like when you play against your old team mates?
When a player leaves a club, he has something to prove. For me, it brings out the best in me. I have to concentrate more as I don’t want to lose against my old team.
Also when I play I say to myself my old team knows how I play and I think of ways to change up my playing style so I would have an advantage.
Which team do you look forward to playing the most?
W Connection as they always give you a tough game. I get joy from beating that team.
What is your pre-match routine?
The team usually trains the morning of a game. Personally, I start off my day by giving thanks to the Lord, then have a good breakfast, relax and watch football, drink a lot of water and, lastly, I play the game in my head before the actual match.
What was your best moment in football so far? And your worst?
My best moment was when I played at St Augustine. We played in the East Intercol final against San Juan Secondary and I scored the only goal in stoppage time.
My worst would be this season when we played against W Connection. We were leading by two goals and we could have won but the victory slipped away from us. (Connection fought back to draw 2-2 with two goals in the last five minutes).
If we had won we would have been in a better position in the league competition. That defeat gave me sleepless nights.
What pushes you to succeed?
Where I came from pushes me. Growing up, my family did not have much and it was tough. Football motivated me and I used it as a good and now it is my bread and butter.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, Shivon Mohammed, and my daughter, Xaria John.
What would be success for you as a player?
Playing full-time on the national team. (John was a former Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 and under-23 player).
What is your target for 2014?
On the pitch, it would be to win the Pro League competition. This would show people that, despite the ups and downs in my life, I was still successful. I would also like to play regularly on the national team.
Editor’s Note: Elton John and Central FC will be in action against Police FC from 8 pm on Tuesday April 22 at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Central FC will meet DIRECTV W Connection in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield final on Friday April 25.