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Sancho saves stranded football trialists; Quintero, Rochford stuck in London

The Ministry of Sport was forced into a rescue operation today as two former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team players, Jean-Luc Rochford and Dwight Quintero, were among three footballers left alone in a hotel in London while their contingent moved on to trials in Turkey.

Photo: Former Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (left) tries to escape from North East Stars midfielder Keithy Simpson during a 2013/14 Pro League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (left) tries to escape from North East Stars midfielder Keithy Simpson during a 2013/14 Pro League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The third player, Keon Russell, is a former Caledonia AIA employee while Rochford and Quintero are both free agents but represented Central FC in Pro League action last season.

All three left Trinidad for Turkey with Dion Sosa, an unregistered local football agent, and close to a dozen other players.

However, once in London, Quintero, Rochford and Russell were allegedly informed that there was no plane ticket to take them on Turkey.

Eventually, they made their way to Trinidad and Tobago’s High Commission in London where a SOS was put through to Sport Minister Brent Sancho.

“I was contacted this morning by a lady named Keisha Rochford-Hawkins from the Consulate in London, who said that they had three players there who were stranded,” Sancho told Wired868. “I didn’t get the nitty gritty of the situation. But, from what I understand, a party left for London on a broken ticket to Turkey.

“Some of the members went on and these stayed waiting for help and they eventually contacted the consulate… So I am trying to assist.”

Photo: Former San Juan Jabloteh midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford (right) battles for possession with Police FC captain Todd Ryan during a Pro League encounter last season. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Former San Juan Jabloteh midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford (right) battles for possession with Police FC captain Todd Ryan during a Pro League encounter last season.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)

Wired868 tried to contact Sosa by What’s App and email but was unable to reach him.

By the end of the day, the Sport Ministry did book plane tickets from London to Turkey. But, in the confusion, they ended up a ticket short.

Nathalie Fournillier, Quintero’s aunt, said her nephew contacted her for help this morning. At the time, Quintero and Rochford were together but they could not find Russell and thought he had left them since he was supposedly familiar with London.

Fournillier convinced Sancho that there were only two players in need of help, only to discover later that Russell had resurfaced.

Sancho vowed to do all he can to get a ticket for Russell tomorrow. Eid festivities have apparently complicated travel to Turkey.

Fournillier explained that the contingent, led by Sosa, arrived in London on Thursday morning. However, Quintero, Rochford and Russell were allegedly told that, due to financial issues, there was no ticket to take them to Turkey and Sosa would go ahead with the other players and make the necessary arrangements from there.

Photo: Former Central FC midfielder and captain Leston Paul (right) runs at North East Stars players Keryn Navarro (left) and Taryk Sampson during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final. Paul, who is a free agent, is one of several trialists who left for Turkey with agent Dion Sosa. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Central FC midfielder and captain Leston Paul (right) runs at North East Stars players Keryn Navarro (left) and Taryk Sampson during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final.
Paul, who is a free agent, is one of several trialists who left for Turkey with agent Dion Sosa.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The group of players are due to play three practice matches against European clubs, who are in their pre-season, with the hope of catching the eye and being signed or invited for formal trials.

Fournillier said each player was asked to pay $25,000 for airfare and accommodation, although most did not have the full amount and there were several fund-raising initiatives.

Quintero and Rochford, who roomed together, had not heard from Sosa as they neared the 11 am check-out time.

In Trinidad, Quintero’s mother and relatives were in tears.

“I had a lot of calls from my sisters this morning while I was at work,” said Fournillier, who lives in the United States, “and I got messages saying to call as soon as possible, so I got worried.

“When I called, I was told my nephew (Quintero) was left behind in London with two other players and Sosa and the others went ahead to Turkey.

“It took me a while to wrap my head around that because I felt it must have been a huge mistake.”

Photo: Former Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (centre) goes down under a challenge from Police captain Todd Ryan (far left) while Anton Hutchinson (far right) and Kenaz Williams look on during a Pro League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (centre) goes down under a challenge from Police captain Todd Ryan (far left) while Anton Hutchinson (far right) and Kenaz Williams look on during a Pro League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Quintero is a former National Under-20 striker and was on the current Under-23 squad, although he missed the Olympic qualifiers and 2015 Pan American Games due to the team’s managerial issues.

Rochford, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2009 Under-20 and 2007 Under-17 World Youth Cups, contacted a relative who works at the High Commission in London and they made their way there for help.

That relative, Keisha Rochford-Hawkins, was able to pay for another night’s stay at a hotel for the players and give them other assistance.

Fournillier said she eventually got a phone call through to Sosa in Turkey and he allegedly admitted that he did not inform the players beforehand about their travel issues.

“He said he didn’t want to let the ticket issue interfere with the trip after they had (done so much work),” said Fournillier. “He asked me if I could work on sponsors to get them plane tickets for Turkey… He said there was still money tied up by sponsors and, once he got back into Trinidad, he would honour all debts.”

Sancho agreed to help.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho. Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and CEO of local Pro League club, Central FC. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho.
Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and CEO of local Pro League club, Central FC.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

The Sport Minister is a former chairman at Central FC, which employed Quintero and Rochford. However, neither player is under contract while the club is not entitled to any developmental fee for Rochford, since he has already passed his 23rd birthday.

Sancho, who was heavily criticised by Sosa during Levi Garcia’s transfer to Netherlands top flight club club AZ, said he was only interested in helping young players in a time of need.

“I’ve been in that situation before and it is not a nice feeling,” said Sancho, who was a former Scotland Premier League and England League One defender. “It happened when I left Ross County and an agent took me to a trial in Romania. And when I didn’t sign, they yanked my return ticket and I was stranded for a couple of days…

“I am not involved with Central with my new portfolio. But these are young men in a jam and guys I know… So I cannot just leave them there.”

Fournillier said she and Rochford’s mother did their best to lift the boys’ spirits and get them in the right frame of mind for what lies ahead.

Photo: Central FC goal scorer Jean-Luc Rochford (front) and his teammates celebrate with the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship trophy. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC goal scorer Jean-Luc Rochford (front) and his teammates celebrate with the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship trophy.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I told them that God never lets adversity affect his children unless he knows something good is going to come out of it,” said Fournillier. “They must not be disheartened and they have to forge forward and finish what they started by any means necessary. Whatever drama plays out, keep your eyes on the prize.

“Jean-Luc’s mom also sent them a very inspirational message… They were a bit fearful at one point but they are in really good spirits now.

“They want to say ‘thank you’ to Brent (Sancho) for reaching out to help them.”

Despite the chaos, Sancho commended Sosa for his efforts in trying to find professional deals for local players in Europe.

“I applaud the efforts of Sosa and company for trying to find greener pastures for our players,” said Sancho, “although he obviously fell short in his attempts.”

Photo: SWO member and Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for then ailing player Akeem Adams. Adams died on 30 December 2013 after failing to recover from a heart attack. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)
Photo: SWO member and Central FC operations director Kevin Harrison (right) presents a $12,000 cheque to Dion Sosa, the local manager for then ailing player Akeem Adams.
Adams died on 30 December 2013 after failing to recover from a heart attack.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/Wired868)

Dion Sosa’s trialists: Raheem Belgrave, Curtis Gonzales, Dario Holmes, Weslie John, Jelani Peters, Keon Russell, Jamel Farell, Leon Whyle, Leston Paul, Jean-Luc Rochford, Duane Muckette, Keane McIvor, Xavier Rajpaul, Micah Lewis, Qian Grosvenor, Phillip Borde, Dwight Quintero and Brent Sam.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and 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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113 comments

  1. sport ministry should NOT be “assisting” players … no idea what shenanigans Sancho is up to here … the ministry is NOT a sports management company … if they are in trouble, government can help bring them home, that is all

  2. Firstly – 1) there are NO licensed FIFA agents anymore
    2) this trip was poorly planned by someone who wants to do deals for himself before players
    3) it’s all about the money, and not guiding and nurturing young men’s career paths
    4) some naive players will trust anyone when they promise them something way way better than their current status
    5) were the trials created with letters of invitation on club letterheads ?
    6) were the players still under contract in TandT ?
    7) were the “representatives” registered “intermediaries” with TTFA and/or the target FA ? (as a former lic. agent, I refuse to recognise FIFA’s new system myself)
    8) were the representatives experienced ? how many players had they guided to better times before ?

    there’s some discussion for you Lasana
    (maybe enough cannon fodder for my first interview in TandT)

  3. Nah Savi! De green donkey back was real strong. It tote real load and plenty people did take a ride on it’s cart. But de donkey get old and de road became to much for it so everybody jump off.

  4. Hell – since I’m a former National Football player, will he come to my rescue if I get stuck in Amsterdam after having fun in the red light district?

  5. Green donkey = Ministry of Sport Junior?

  6. Or you could just ask him so we would know ahead of time if to make a detour to Tahiti or something… 😀

  7. Only one way to find out… We need some swimmers or hurdlers to get stuck somewhere! 🙂

  8. That would clear up a lot of questions, we hope

  9. Curious to know if Sancho is willing to help all athletes who find themselves in this sort of predicament or just footballers…

  10. For everyone else, Sosa confirmed that he left the players in London and that they will travel to Turkey on tickets paid for by Sport Ministry.
    In his own defence, he said that he was trying to get the boys to Turkey and he felt he could better do that from in Turkey. And he said he had matters well in hand (in his opinion) and the players were hasty in sending out SOS signals.
    Now, instead of writing an update based on that. I’m waiting to speak to him properly so I can hopefully all questions answered in one swoop.

  11. Savitri Maharaj wake up!! “Agent” ain’t have money for transport, yuh think he go have insurance for players! That and a green donkey yuh wouldn’t see, but wait, we have a green donkey already!

  12. Yes Lasana Liburd – please do.

  13. If I was a fly on the wall in the office of the High Commission in London, this is what I would have heard. “Brent – I have an interesting situation here. Do you want to get involve? It’ll be a great opportunity for some positive PR for you.” “Commish – thanks for sharing. That fella Dion is pure stress. There’s some interesting history between us. I’ll handle it from here” lol

  14. Btw, Carlos. Sosa has responded already. Should I tag you all in that thread? He has promised to answer more questions and I’m still waiting to reach him.

  15. I just hope they all have medical insurance too…cause that’s another story to come.

  16. Well one of the players is related to someone working at the High Commission. And well we know how “connections” work in this country.

  17. Yes – well said Chabeth Haynes.

  18. Oh well Carlos Lee, that makes more sense. And given the bad blood among all these players in local football, I wouldn’t put it past any of them to seize an opportunity to show another up.

  19. Agree 100% Lasana Liburd. It was a privately organize event. I was trying to make two points: 1) The story as written was a bit one-sided or should I say incomplete, since we had no comments from Dion; and 2) The High Commission Office in London, for what ever reason, rather than own the situation and perform its duty to assist citizens in distress, decided to pass the buck to the Minister of Sports. If this was our Women’s or Men’s Football team stranded in London, on their way to an international friendly or tournament, I could see the Ministry of Sport being consulted to help, but this was a private tour/event.

  20. Agreed Lasana! This was a private initiative by a local scout and knowing all the love between the parties involved, this has given the minsiter some ammunition….but I still wanna hear the whole story…Dion knows how i feel about these young men travelling and making a future outside.

  21. That is exactly right Lasana. Shawn’s query as to why Russel who had money for a ticket was the last leave is an important question to be answered. Regardless of the motives involved, genuine or not, this wasn’t properly planned and executed.

  22. Ok. I follow now Carlos. But the situation was not created by either group though. So I don’t think it to be the key point here at all.
    There should have been no need for either the MOS or the Embassy to get involved.

  23. Still Carlos it just does not make sense…..

  24. Keith Clement – read my clarification.

  25. Lasana a “PR Stunt” is something created…..is it that some people are saying that the Minister of Sports and Mr. Sosa created this situation so the Sports Minister could take advantage for political mileage…….really, why this unwelcome situation has to be tainted with political over-tone……WOW! some people really knows how to push..

  26. Lasana Liburd – sorry. You totally misunderstood me. The collusion is between the High Commission and the Minister of Sport, not between Dion and Brent.

  27. Savitri Maharaj, it will be on the site. Click on the second story and read the comments.

  28. Call me naive then Carlos Lee. Because I absolutely don’t see collusion between Brent Sancho and Dion Sosa here.

  29. Absolutely nothing. The boys rightly went to the High Commission office for assistance. The High Commission office should have covered their flights back to Trini with a follow up investigation as to why they were left in London.

  30. I see the words “PR stunt”. However, I see “PR stunts for”, not “PR stunt by.” Maybe, it’s just me, but we’re finding negatives for an entity when in fact the person making the statement wasn’t intending to be negative to that particular entity (MOS), but one independent of the (MOS).

  31. What would y’all have said if Sancho knew about this situation and didn’t help?

  32. I can’t really agree with this collusion story but definitely opportunism by Sancho. I ain’t mad either, the boys are at their intended location. I hope they get back to Trinidad safe and sound

  33. Lasana, I just read sone of Dion’s responses, but cant find it again. Was it on Volley? Is it poss you can paste it in here too? I cant since the phone’s not as easy as a pc/laptop…thanks much

  34. Junior Noel, check for the words “PR stunt.” That would usually suggest collusion or opportunism which I didn’t think was justified. Every MP would take a pic when he crosses a constituent across the road. But once you are responding to a request for help, I felt that terminology was harsh.
    But it is no problem. We cross swords here and that is all part of it.
    I enjoy being challenged too to be honest. Keeps us sharp.

  35. Lasana Liburd according to your article, mr. Russel provided 600 euros to sosa for the said ticket. However he was the last person to leave????? Very suspect

  36. Maybe I’m missing something, but can someone direct me to where in this thread the Sports Ministry is being blamed? Lasana? Carlos? Sometimes some of us get our drawers pulled up a little bit too high and it affects our thoughts.

  37. Editor’s Note: Keon Russell received a plane ticket on Saturday July 18, purchased by the Ministry of Sport, to attend trials in Turkey with a contingent led by Dion Sosa. He also received a free extension by the Park Inn Hotel until his evening flight from London.

    Sosa told Wired868’s readers that the players are safe and sound and the matter is well under control. He promised to say more soon.

  38. I really don’t know enough about what the High Commission does except print a news letter and hold the occasional dinner party Carlos Lee. That is a good point.
    I don’t know if they are supposed to call for help or if they actually have a budget to help in such circumstances.

  39. On the subject of the sports minister and his heroic role – I was more trying to highlight the fact that citizens in distress went to the Trini High Commission in London for help, but for some strange reason they were routed to the Ministry of Sports. Curious that most don’t see anything wrong with that. I’m happy though that the Sports Minister didn’t also decide to pass the buck to say the TTFA or another ministry. Kudos to him for owing the situation.

  40. Why Lasana ? Because we are in the midst of the “Silly Season” where every action by every politician will be spun according to which side of the fence you sit…unless you’re politically neutral in which case you just see things for what they are.

  41. You know people talk about my issues with Jack Warner. Well, I did a round-up of exciting T&T matches yesterday and pointed out that Warner was instrumental in Russell Latapy’s return to the team for the 2006 World Cup.
    I don’t get what the big deal is for people to say that Sancho does something good too ever so often. We criticise him when he does nonsense. Why not say well done if he does something worthwhile?

  42. Carlos Lee, it happens sometimes where one side prefers not to talk for one reason or the other. A journalist would be an idiot not to write for that reason.
    Because it would then become something that people export all the time to keep news that does not paint them in a good light from being published.
    As it turns out, Sosa did leave comments on a thread last night. He confirmed that: (1) three players were left behind in London for financial reasons, and (2) the players will complete the trip to Turkey on plane tickets from the Ministry of Sport.
    So you tell me which part of my story was inaccurate?

  43. Carlos Lee the trip was not properly planned and worse yet, the man is NOT a License FIFA agent…..what more you want to say he screwed up……HE SCREWED UP!

  44. Keith – not sure how you can come to such a conclusion with only half the story. And by the way I’m not a personal friend of Dion – just interested in fairness. Hopefully you’re a rational fella and would agree that both sides of a story must be heard before one should form an honest opinion.

  45. Carlos Lee let’s get back on course here…if the person who took those guys to the football promise land did the right thing from the start this would of been a story praising him for doing good for those players…he screwed up…..the Ministry/the High Commission are not the story here…why we always want to let we friend off the hook when they dead wrong….#just saying

  46. Kevin Harrison – one of the responsibilities of a High Commission is to take care of its citizens’ needs in time of distress. They are provided with all the resources – financial and otherwise – to perform their duties. Don’t understand why they had to pass the responsibility on to the Ministry of Sports. Unless this was seen as a good PR opportunity in an election year.

  47. I am very close with one of the players who was caught stranded it’s a sad state they came off the plane and had to head straight into Trial this is a sad state ,after this player paid $25,000 TT he shouldn’t be left in this situation Kaya was also without a ticket in NYC he had to be housed by his family before he departed for Turkey .

  48. Let’s not be too quick to attack Dion Sosa. I know as a people we love seeing our brothers fail, but we should wait to hear his side of the story. Lasana Liburd often does a great job with his stories, but I think he failed to provide a balanced article this time around. Seems a bit one-sided to me leaving readers to prematurely conclude that Dion was irresponsible and left his players behind for no reason at all. He also indirectly paints Brent Sancho as a hero/savior, rather than question why the TNT High Commission in London had to reach out to the Ministry of Sports to assist the supposedly stranded players. We all know there is prior “bad blood” between Brent and Dion and Brent is simply taking this opportunity to paint a poor picture of Dion.

  49. That would be an odd pairing in truth Carlos Lee. Lol. Sosa told me early this morning that things are fine and vowed to answer questions later.
    The last player, Keon Russell, messages to say he got his ticket to Turkey from the Ministry this morning.