Former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 and Under-23 Team striker Ricardo John is aiming to earn a professional contract abroad, after losing his football scholarship at Virginia Technical Institute.
John, who is 21 years old, confirmed that the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) opened an investigation into his eligibility, after he represented Central FC in a handful of Pro League games in January, during his school holidays.
The tall, pacy striker did not have a contract when he played and was an unpaid player for the “Couva Sharks.” However, it was a costly decision.
“The NCAA found a problem with how I played for Central, so the school filed a complaint,” John told Wired868. “I would have been ineligible (to play for Virginia Tech)… I didn’t know it would be against the (NCAA) rules once I didn’t sign a contract (with Central).”
John, who was in his sophomore year at Virginia Tech, was selected on the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) All-South Region Third-Team in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He was doing a degree in hotel and tourism management.
Ironically, John turned down opportunities from a host of Pro League clubs, including Central, to pursue a university degree after he graduated from St Augustine Secondary, two years ago.
He does not quite see it as two years wasted, although he is now forced to wonder what might have been if he joined the professional ranks earlier.
“I had an opportunity to go on trial in Turkey (with scout Dion Sosa) before but I decided to go to school,” said John. “It was a nice experience (at Virginia Tech). My level and my style of play improved there…
“I think I’ve improved my game intelligence. I became a smarter player.”
John has rejoined Central for the rest of the season on a rolling month-to-month contract. He has already represented the Sharks in Pro League and Lucozade Sport Goal Shield action over the past week.
And he is eligible to play in next month’s Caribbean Club Championship semifinals, once he can carve out playing time in Central’s offensive roster, which includes Marcus Joseph, Jason Marcano, Nicholas Dillon, Kadeem Corbin and Rundell Winchester.
John said he will not cry over spilt milk and hopes to make the most of what is now in front of him.
“I want to try and get a contract abroad and get on the national (senior) team,” said John, “because football is something I want to do as a career.”
John’s younger sister, Chevonne John, represented the “Women Soca Warriors” during the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifying series. She has also recently accepted a football scholarship to Regis University in Colorado, USA.