Trinidad and Tobago international footballer and North East Stars playmaker Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings was shot outside his home in Diego Martin early this morning, after returning home from a boat cruise with his girlfriend.
Cummings, according to Stars coach Roland Clarke, had just been given a lift home by his girlfriend and was about to enter his house when an armed masked assailant struck. The talented 27 year old was allegedly shot in his leg and suffered a broken thigh bone.
Thus far, there is no indication that Cummings, who usually sports several gold chains and an oversized medallion, was the victim of an attempted robbery. He is warded at the Port of Spain General Hospital.
“From what I understand, he went to a boat ride and on his way home a masked man ran up to him and fired and he was shot in the leg,” Clarke told Wired868. “His bone is broken. Tomorrow he will undergo surgery.”
The armed assault will have immediate consequences for Cummings’ career and the prospects of the “Soca Warriors.”
The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team players enter into camp today in Couva, in preparation for their 2016 Copa America Centenario play off against Haiti on January 8 in Panama City.
Cummings, who rose to national prominence with a double strike in his country’s 4-4 draw against Mexico at the July 2015 Gold Cup, is a key component of the Warriors’ offence and featured in both Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and the United States.
“It is extremely sad and unfortunate,” said Warriors manager William Wallace. “It is something that I am certain that will impact the team (and) the coach (Stephen Hart) will have to pull them out of this. It is sad, sad, sad.
“Right now (team co-manager) David Muhammad is at the hospital, so I should get more information in a while.”
The Warriors train this evening from 6 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Coach Stephen Hart will have to decide whether to summon an additional player as compensation for Cummings’ absence.
Cummings and Central FC’s Ataulla Guerra were expected to compete for an advanced central midfield role behind the lone striker.
Versatile Central attacker Marcus Joseph and W Connection striker Shahdon Winchester can also play as a “10” but have been out of favour. Hart could also push Khaleem Hyland into that role, as was the case against the United States but would struggle to find another holding midfielder, as Dwane James and Leston Paul have shown patchy form.
Another possibility is to introduce a winger like Connection’s Aikim Andrews or Portland Timbers II’s Rundell Winchester and shuttle Connection’s inverted winger, Jomal Williams, into a central role.
Clarke revealed that there might be other professional implications for Cummings, who hopes to join United States Major League Soccer (MLS) team, Orlando City, in January.
Cummings trained with City after the Gold Cup and is believed to have caught the eye of the club, which already have former FIFA World Player of the Year, Kaka, and 2014 TTFA Player of the Year, Kevin Molino, on their books.
“It is a great shock to us and everybody is saddened,” said Clarke. “He is our marquee player and very popular in the team… Outside of that his future can also be hampered.
“In January, he was supposed to sign with Orlando City and I think he already has a pre-agreement in place. It is really sad to wake up this morning to hear this kind of news.”
Cummings has made 14 international appearances for Trinidad and Tobago with three goals. All three items were scored this year in separate outings against Mexico.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams, who once employed Cummings at W Connection FC, said he was disappointed that the talented player has suffered this setback, just as his career was taking off.
“It is unfortunate and disappointing to get the news,” John-Williams told Wired868. “I have gotten some conflicting reports and I don’t know the extent of the injury yet. But I hope it is not career threatening and he he has a speedy recovery.
“It is a definite setback for him just when he has turned the corner on his career.”