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Joevin for HJK: Connection ace joins Europa-bound Finnish champs

DIRECTV W Connection midfield ace and, arguably, the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League’s most gifted player, Joevin Jones, is off to Finland for a six-month loan deal with top flight champion team, HJK FC.

Jones, 23, is scheduled to leave for Helsinki tomorrow to meet his teammates for the first time. By next month, the “Soca Warrior” could be a Europa League player as HJK has qualified for the group round of UEFA’s second most prestigious club competition.

Photo: W Connection midfielder Joevin Jones (left) outfoxes San Juan Jabloteh defender Nyron Jones during a Pro League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection midfielder Joevin Jones (left) outfoxes San Juan Jabloteh defender Nyron Jones during a Pro League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

HJK is drawn in a group that includes Torino (Italy), Club Brugge (Belgium) and FC Copenhagen (Denmark).

“I’m very excited,” Jones told Wired868. “It is my first contract abroad and I really want to do well and earn a big move for myself.”

Jones, who has 35 senior national caps, joins a league that has seemingly acquired a taste for Trinidad and Tobago talent. His former Connection teammate, 22-year-old Shahdon Winchester, is at mid-table FF Jaro and is four goals shy of the league’s top scoring mark of 11 items.

While Jones’ 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup teammates, left back Aubrey David and forward Jamal Gay, are also first team regulars at Jaro and RoPS respectively.

Jaro is seventh in the 12-team Veikkausliiga league and ahead of RoPS on goal difference. HJK is a distant first with a whopping 23 point advantage over both clubs.

Connection president David John Williams claimed that HJK has chased Jones for months but the move was delayed to help the “Savonetta Boys” clinch the 2013/14 Pro League title and the million dollar first prize.

HJK qualified for the group stage of the Europa League last Thursday after eking past Austrian club Rapid Wien in a play off and the Finnish team immediately revamped its interest in the young Warrior. HJK and Connection reached an agreement on Sunday afternoon.

Photo: HJK FC players celebrate their Europa League progress last month.
Photo: HJK FC players celebrate their Europa League progress last month.

“They wanted him for the Europa League (group stage) which ends in December,” said Williams, “and there is an option to renew the deal for another season as well as a pretty decent buy-out clause.”

Williams, who also sold winger Stefano Rijssel to Suriname champion team Inter Moengotapoe last week, denied the Surinamese international’s claim that Connection priced him out of a move to United States Major League Soccer (MLS) club Seattle Sounders.

“Let me make it categorically clear that the MLS never asked me for a price for Rijssel,” said Williams. “It was never a matter of money; so I’m very disappointed that Stefano made that statement.”

Connection could soon send another trio to Europe as 20-year-old right back Alvin Jones, who is Joevin’s younger brother, and teenaged attackers Jomal Williams and Neil Benjamin Jr are on trial at a third division club in France.

Williams claimed that the trio have already suitably impressed their host and it is only matter of agreeing terms for a loan move. He insisted that the possible transfer was a promising one for the former national youth players despite the low status of the unnamed suitor.

“Remember (Ivory Coast legend) Didier Drogba signed for a Third Division club at the age of 23,” said Williams, “and, three years later, he was at Chelsea… If they start there and do well, then in six months’ time they can be in the (France top flight).

“It is just to get into the system.”

Photo: W Connection right back Alvin Jones (right) celebrates after a goal against Central FC last season. Connection defender Daneil Cyrus (left) is on loan in Vietnam at present. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection right back Alvin Jones (right) celebrates after a goal against Central FC last season.
Connection defender Daneil Cyrus (left) is on loan in Vietnam at present.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The elder Jones expressed delight at his chance to move up the football ladder in Europe after unsuccessful trials with Italy Serie A club, Udinese, and MLS teams, Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC, over the last four years.

His only look at HJK so far was on television as he watched the Finnish giants face a fairly strong Barcelona team in an exhibition match in Helsinki. Barcelona strolled to a 6-0 win.

“They tried to put the ball on the ground and play,” said Jones, “but you know how Barcelona can press…”

HJK employs 11 players who have represented Finland in 2014 including 33-year-old former Chelsea striker Mikael Forssell, who played alongside Stern John at Birmingham City, and 34-year-old ex-Tottenham midfielder Teemu Taino.

Jones will be HJK’s seventh foreigner in its present squad although only Gambian attacker Demba Savage is a regular international player from their over overseas recruits.

Jones, who helped Trinidad and Tobago win silver at the 2012 Caribbean Cup, is unsure whether his European move might affect his international career in the short-term.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago utility player Joevin Jones (right) drives past Jamaica midfielder Jermaine Woozencroft during a friendly international in Port of Spain on 19 November 2013. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago utility player Joevin Jones (right) drives past Jamaica midfielder Jermaine Woozencroft during a friendly international in Port of Spain on 19 November 2013.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

Trinidad and Tobago starts its 2014 Caribbean Cup campaign next month in a qualifying group at home.

“If my club wants me to, I will be happy to come back and play,” said Jones. “I always love playing for my country.”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. And what homesick joevin is a big man he has to live the life and adapt if he didnt want to go he would not…I know him..he would not go the deal is good and he knows it and still has his opotions open to move anywhere …thats the sense in negotiations. …from johwilliams stop putting thos nonsense in players heads about home sick….I left home for professional football at 19 years in portugal and now I speak the language and had a beautiful life in tough conditions. ..ket players live their lives and encourage them to be strong and take the initiative. ..its all crap from anyone who tells me about homesick and I missing my mommy and girlfriend and this nonsense. …u either want it or not and if u dont stay in Trinidad and fend for yourself take what they give you because there is not much now in professional football in the country. …simple and if people have the money to give all proleague players 4 and 5 and 6 and 10 grand each month without government subvention then go right ahead we will see u in the minor leagues in a year

  2. I appreciate the contribution u have made in football and like u said its not personal its just a forum 2 voice your opinion so I enjoy these debates in good spirits

  3. Be happy football is a small world. ..business men make decisions for themselves and their players and we in this business have to educate and help with our experiences to think of ways to get a better product and to benefit the player which is most important but we can’t in this business get upset and disrespectful to one another when the objective is to get better players for trinidad and to get them outside…everyone has their way but everyone has to try and work in the best possible way for the development and sometimes we may not like certain things but we still have to respect and get the work done…I don’t need anything from the players but for them to get out a be the best that they can and make money…but it is a dam difficult job…and its not getting any easier so I want people to know I am not on any thing personal on this blog I dont like doing this but I think I needed to let my feelings be heard because I know and have been in this for over 21 years and I know the nice times the ugly times on the player, coaching and business aspect..nothing beats the experience for yourself…iam greatful to the lord for blessing me so I hope we can truly make a difference in players life.

  4. I am currently working with jabloteh Probono helping them take the club into the 21st century the correct and professional way

  5. I do earl ask jabloteh they get money 4 primus NE get for bateau and point was 2 get 4 Akeem but what happened was tragic and u can ask any player I work with rule #1 we always give back 2 the local club

  6. But u know what I speak about…not talking about sheldon…be greatful to the clubs who have developed players so that agents can exploit….be greatful to the jaboteh’s and connections and Caledonia’s, and rangers that help you all to make a nice living

  7. Yes when you make money from them yes put it back…selfless..very good so dont try to play u are more selfless than people like david that if I tell you with the short time I have spent here in trini the amount of high profile people who had little to start and gave them help and trini top sportmen and women he has helped, singers yes I can call names because I saw for myself and never once came out in public with cameras to show people what he is doing….talk about selfless….the man has a heart and he put his money where his mouth is and is still doing…and iam sure u dion if u had to sit in that office and see for yourself what goes on a what he gives to players…helping them with vehicles and their families yes paying off stuff for their families and giving them things that owners wouldnt dream of doing…I live it I see it for myself and his brother what they do and they dont come out and highlight these things. ….selfless there are so many and maybe thats why god continue to bless them for their hard work and honesty. …u sitting there would have done nothing different. ..but to look for the best for player and club….you know how many times have this david john williams decided to give club open house to his players so that they can take the player without paying a transfer fee and keeping the player till he has spent a year or two to get adjusted to conditions out side and still the clubs are hesitant because of work permits and stuff do u really know what goes on with a caribbean player. ..an the difficulty boy…dion

  8. I don’t have any disagreements with you earl jean so don’t take my comments personal

  9. Furthermore I have paid for tickets 4 primus clarence bateau gay fredericks visas insurance and helped countless others with money boots and so other different stuff anyone who knows me will tell u I am very selfless at times I give more and get screwed but that’s all part of the business so don’t compare me 2 those unethical people out there cause I am not that kind of person

  10. You are missing the entire point I am making let me simplify it in laymen terms what I am saying is you need 2 know the individual you are working with and Joevin does get homesick very fast and it would have been better 2 place him there in feb mar so he could have gotten time 2 acclimatise and settle not heading there at the start of the winter season which can result in injuries neoumonia and other illnesses due 2 the change in climate 4 him that’s all I am saying

  11. …u are a poor excuse for a so call agent the one who wanted to send players on trials ….and then in turn wanted the parent to pay for their trials…an agent u call yourself with deep pockets. ..I know people like you…ive seen you all exploit. ..I always give our players advice anytime they want it whether david john Williams gets upset or not and he has never been. I’ll like to get on a tv program with you discuss all about how you all exploit and make the monies that you all do…my problem is that you all play you all care you all don’t you all are all about yourself i know the agents. …thats why I gave up on some of you…when 1.I took one of you all sorry agents to FiFA and won my case and .2. when advised by clive whitehead of england of players using their lawyers instead of people like you …do what u do to make a living… I know your game…its upsetting u that u cant take the well developed players from connection to go exploit. ….yes I know u may fool some but u cant fool all and dont worry when you take all that money you make off players and come put it back in football then u can come out in public and speak…

  12. Or you are one of those with that golden spoon mentality. ..man let the guys work and play anywhere in the world that can give them an opportunity. ..u want them on the block….making kids , smoking, and then they cant take care of their families. ..man are u serious stop putting the nonsense in players head ….that’s the mental problem…Some of them come out on europe on trials and dont think they have to work twice as hard as the local player because you are coming to take someone elses opportunity. …you have to be much better than the local player. ..you have to be mentally tougher. …its not easy its hard work and dedication. ..and if you dont have an European passport you then have and must show you can make that difference on the team….yes and sometimes still with corrupt system we live in ….yes you may still have to give a director or a coach money to keep your player so he can get an opportunity …u think this football world easy dion sosa….do u travel and meet the clubs all over europe and their players and know whats going on…do u really or as an agent you just do the deals get your cut to and stay hush hush. speak out on these issues where agents take advantage of players….speak about that…I know, I earl jean know

  13. Dion are u serious…saw your message to renee earlier…are you serious man….are u an agent for real!!!! Thats the attitude you have about sending players to sub zero places my lord..now I see why some of our players in this country have that mentality of no I want to go where its nice and sunny and the food is nice wooow really man….thats why you got contracts for players only in Belgium where a few players from trini left because of racism thrown their way…man get some balls ….nonsense!!!!thats why there are players from brazil, africa, france, Portugal playing in places as far as Russia, china ….man when u are a professional sports man and get this in your head you agent you…wherever the job is and you can make your livelihood and you could take care of yourself and your family thats where you go…whether its -40 degrees or anything, professionalism is an attitude and thats what u put in players heads…its about enjoying the game and making the most amount of money in a 10 to 15 year period depending on how late u start….so think like a man and not a wimp sorry for my language but u really upsetting me now….did you ever play professionally did you ever go through the struggles?

  14. Iam back again goodmorning!!!lasana…boy boy…its is as true and simple as u say…alot of people are afraid to speak out on the issues….sosa, john williams and all the others who are working in their own way to help and push these guys no matter how difficult the circumstances like u pointed out.they are doing their part…the truth is like u said is the development of the game…the players you mentioned and more around with other clubs have the talent…but the professional systems are not in place, and I always blame the administrators because alot of them thinks that the football is about them…they want all the profile instead of developing the game from the bottom our young players are developing to late…and being kept back so often at national levels by the time they are 24 some are getting 3 and four caps …that wont cut it in getting them lucrative deals outside…lets dont fool ourselves, lots of work have to be put in place at the youth levels and our administrators just dont have a clue or they do but just focus on senior football because the glory lies there for them.we need to fix the game…good coaches at youth levels, proper facilities, the national teams need their own training Centre, more funding for traveling for training games, more tactical education for our young players, better professional environment. ..This is needed and more…eg.the national teams in 2014 are still having problems in accessing playing surfaces for preparation for international tournaments, that should never be after all the money that has past through this game and country. …come on….. they not suppose to be competing with clubs for grounds to train, madness…!! They suppose to have their own facility for proper preparation and focus. ..then u would see better attitudes and they would respect the game a little more. ..its a lot to speak about…but we must be frank and honest

  15. So what you really saying is that clubs must stop look for opportunities for players because there is no chance in hell they will experience and embrace maturity and responsibility in this lifetime? You serious? You’re a player agent? You making smoke

  16. Your sending a player who does get homesick in the caribbean on national duty 2 a country with sub zero temperatures ha ha ha ha ha is like sending a chimp into space without a space suit real smart move !!!!

  17. Renee John-Williams I know the adage well about cockroaches and cock fights! lol.
    I think there are other things keeping back our talent.
    They are starting adult football too late and the national team isn’t really developing new talent anymore. Because there is no program, just ad hoc games.
    Alvin Jones should have had about five caps by now. Benjamin, Jomal and guys like Leston and so on should have at least been in a few national senior team training camps alongside Kenwyne and Hyland and the rest.
    In fact, Alvin is 20 and just finished his first full senior season. Players like Nixon, Yorke and Leonson would have had three or even four adult seasons under their belt already.
    I know what you’re saying Kevin Harrison. But this is not how Trinidad and Tobago developed players in the past.
    Everyone is trying to make the best out of a bad situation. Williams and Sosa can discuss the fine print of moving players on. But the problem is bigger than work permits to me.
    It is developing and blooding players so as to make them attractive to international market.
    And no club, no matter how well intentioned, can adequately compensate for those shortcomings.

  18. To the best of my memory Kester Lendor Cyrus’ move to Vietnam was more of his choice than anyone else’s. I think he knew what he was getting into, with respect to release for national games, monies etc. Someone correct me if I’m wrong please.

  19. The challenge still exists for our players to play in EU countries even though they get contracts elsewhere. Unless the TTFA gets their act together, we’ll remain in this slum indefinitely. I know a player wandering in England for about 3-4 years and can’t sign despite numerous trials with big clubs. Joevin will be eligible to play in the Europa League, let’s wish him all the best.

  20. Kester Lendor, it’s nothing to do with lack of ability or talent. I could place the entire Central F.C. starting XI in the English 1st & 2nd Division, and some in the Championship. Definitely into the Scottish Premier League. Clubs there would love to sign our boys. The problem is work permits. Any EU club has very strict rules preventing players from the outside working in EU countries. Some countries require that the players come from nations who have been consistently in the FIFA top 70 for two years AND have played 75% of competitive fixtures. Others, such as Belgium, have a minimum wage for non EU players of around TT$50k per month. As Mr Williams pointed out, there are around 4,000 players available for free in Europe. This is the reality. By going to Finland, players are in the European pool and EU clubs will take note of players there, so it’s a good move.

  21. Name calling and venom laced attacks

  22. While we continue with egotistic juvenile rants the bigger picture here is being sidestepped. Why is it that these top players are unable to secure deals anywhere other than Vietnam, Finland or india? This is an indictment our football. Our pro teams have had abysmal records at Concacaf and our National teams with the exception of the 07 & 09 ones have not been competitive at Concacaf. If it is that Asia and Finland are the destinations for our assets then there is clearly a need to re-look at our development programs. Why is it that NT stars are not getting into the French, Dutch, or where ever in Europe that there are strong programs. The frustration for most folks is the fact that Cyrus and Joevin and considered the country’s top young players so we wanna hear that they’ve gone to another level not so sure Finland, Vietnam or India is what we catered for.

  23. Let me tell you something earl jean I am not those naive unintelligent boys that allyuh fooling and taking advantage of. W are like vultures circling around and preying on other teams’ young and talented players stealing them 4 next 2 nothing and then selling and claiming them as if they were developed by W. Not a day goes by that some W or ex W player calling me 2 complain about the dishonest tactics that going on there. so shut the hell up and don’t talk 2 me as if u are not aware of the exploitation of players 2 feed the ego and the pockets of 1 big idiot owner who feel he is god almighty. I feel 4 the players cause most of them don’t even know how they getting rip off and exploited.

  24. Glad for the players, their families and their teams! If we can get a few local coaches going abroad for additional “seasoning”, it may well broaden their horizons and help improve the standard of the game here as well..

  25. you could not have said it better Ren. For a team to sign Joevin sitting at my desk in T And T hours before the transfer window says a lot for the player and the organisation involved. More than that he is asked to come in and strengthen the tean for the prestigious Europa league at group stage. The last time i checked there were over 4000 free players available in Europe

  26. Woow

    I’ll sign off with that ren…I really expected better of him…sometimes thats why I say it maybe better to get back into Europe…more professional heads around. ..its so ridiculous at times

  27. And to Dion, yes, some deals may not always pan out and the players return home…nature of the industry…but instead of cryin down the opportunity and experience they have had, and are about to get… “the waste of time” and “the setta loan deals” as an agent you know that there can’t be such a thing as bad exposure…it is experience the player is gaining and exposure greater than plying his trade locally can ever give him. Big up the boys and dem. yes joevin is a classy player and don’t worry, WCONNECTION is a club that focuses on the business of sport, it would be imprudent of the organization to disclose full loan details, length of contract, player remuneration, etc in the public domain, so do not underestimate the value of what is negotiated for their players

  28. Simple …and iam confident that he will achieve his dreams

  29. Guys we get the point everyone is making. Joevin now has the opportunity to go show himself to the world. The experience of European football is fantastic both for him and T&T let’s juts pray that within these few months overseas he scores ah few of those beautiful free kicks and those blistering crackers from outside the 18 and make ah name for himself. #GOJones #represent #bigplayer

  30. Football is a.small world. ..u never know where I may end up…keep on educating the players and working to get them in a better place…dont make them feel that…that starting small is not important. ..sometimes all u need is a start….dream big, work hard and u can achieve your goals. .

  31. Stop attacking clubs and invest in the talent…
    In the Caribbean and do what ot takes to get players a better life for their families and themselves. now since i have been back in trinidad, how can someone make a statement like this when people like david, jamaal, fakoory and others put out finances that noone would dream about putting to help the youngsters… so instead of always criticising why dont others dont just hush and help in your own way… dont put someone down to look good

  32. Yes you try to get the best deals for players but its a hard bargain when you are from tbe Caribbean. ..I speak to many ex players out in Europe who played witb me and are coaching out there and so many …still hesitate because everyone wants a high quality player and with experience to save their jobs. …Trinidad unless the powers that be invest more in the youth programs then lots of our players will have to bargain for another leagues…in Asia and countries the likes of france belgium, finland,India

  33. Well we would have to go through our deals to how well they do..

  34. Most importantly he’s out there now. We all know Joevin’ ability but after struggling to secure a deal for so long, as Earl Jean said, “the time is now”. Let us hope he impresses, catches the eye of another team or coach, and gets a bigger contract. He’s already 23.

  35. well congrats on you good human nature . I always thought it was a business venture. I now understand why players had to buy their own tickets when you arranged trials for them.

  36. I just try 2 get deals 4 players that can give them adequate security and assurance that they can be happy and help their families

  37. U have to force to get your players out because trinidad is not in the the top 60 or 70 so its very difficult to ….sell players in england …ask mr sosa to go put his players in the top clubs please. .

  38. Earl what I am saying is joevin is a classy player and deserves 2 be signing in a better country and 4 a minimum of at least 2 year which will guarentee him enough time 2 settle and develop

  39. Still Dion Sosa, I respect the fact that you helped get Primus, Bateau and Akeem at decent levels. That is unquestioned.

  40. Try to piggy back on players ..
    Put your money where your mouth is….I listened to people like you for a long time but why dont u get the big deals done. ..what do youll do…I continue soon

  41. I think our inability to send players to Britain has forced a more roundabout route to the top now. Only Khaleem Hyland and Sheldon Bateau have managed to get to what would have been considered a decent level in the past.
    It is the new reality I think.

  42. Dion I should go and sign a 5 year deal…one day some of you so call agents will live up to youll titles…

  43. Boy the time is now. …go enjoy your career make connection and trinidad and tobago proud….always dream big remember. .

  44. These idiots only signing a set of loan deals 2 end up back here in tnt in a few months

  45. What a waste of time move that is

  46. Dion Sosa. he has an 6months contract with an option! So if he play good ,HJK will make a longer deal with him. So it all depends on how good the picture he gives of himself.