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Ricardo John confirms loss of Virginia Tech scholarship; targets foreign pro deal

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.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 attacker Shackiel Henry (right) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammate and Ricardo John, during the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in Hamilton, Canada, on 21 July 2015.  (Copyright AFP 2016/Omar Torres)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 attacker Shackiel Henry (right) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammate and Ricardo John, during the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in Hamilton, Canada, on 21 July 2015.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Omar Torres)

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.

Photo: Virginia Tech striker Ricardo John.
Photo: Virginia Tech striker Ricardo John.

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.

Photo: Central FC forward Ricardo John (right) heads the ball while Morvant Caledonia United flanker Jameel Neptune looks on during Pro League on 19 April 2016 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Central won 3-0. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC forward Ricardo John (right) heads the ball while Morvant Caledonia United flanker Jameel Neptune looks on during Pro League on 19 April 2016 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Central won 3-0.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

“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.

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. All the comments after the fact. The Education system in Trinidad and Tobago is broke and has been broke for a long time. We are educated in English by Jamaican music and the average Trini speaks with an accent that is less objectionable than the improper grammar used to express themselves. Does anyone know what his GPA was at the school. I doubt anyone was assigned with earnest dispensation to follow-up on his academic progress. Trinidadians believe in Fairytales.

  2. I played at the start of the pro league and have seen many of the people on this forum play at sometime and honestly if we could have kept our quality players home with better or improved coaching methods the league would be more vibrant and attractive,so keep encouraging all our players to play overseas and keep destroying the ones that would not accept an invitation to play overseas as illiterate,we are not helping the majority only the minority’s but that is also a professional career choice and I understand that,I remembered a professional club said to me that it made no sense if every player that joined their youth program and then left on a scholarship then how are they going to survive,sad but true??

  3. If we understand what a professional footballer does for a living this would make sense,we as a people look at only the financial part of the game and believe every player should aspire to play out of Trinidad,Why is that?I remembered taken Gorian Highley to Latas Falkirk fc and he said to me,coachman I want to stay in Trinidad and play in front my people,is he wrong because the club wants him to go Europe where they think he should play,all the guy wants to do is play professionally.

  4. Well I know that you guys are really trying alyuh best and yes I really love our professional league because of the opportunities that our players are getting to go abroad to play in the real professional leagues eh, but more marketing strategies needs to be done, like getting our football back to the communities where it really belongs in order to get the real crowd support eh, or getting about 3000 folks to attend the games in the stadiums at each venue, and paying my players on a timely basis to really get the best out of them eh, to also support their families and themselves eh, and always fulfill alyuh promises, not promising them this and that just to get them to win championships eh, and after that eh, doesn’t come thru for them and since the new Sports Minister went and cut back on the monies the professional teams were getting to pay our players and run their business eh, hence the reason why the players salaries are less now eh, maybe we should also allow our players to get a 9- 5 job and practice after work and especially now that there are lights all over our sweet country eh, so with the both salaries eh our players will be more comfortable to play the beautiful game eh, because before the Professional Pro League started 12 yrs ago eh, this is how it was done and our players made it professionally abroad in the real professional leagues and the only secured jobs in our sweet country for our players to be part of is the Army/Coastguard, Police, and Fire, and even if our players gets injured and have to hang up their boots eh, they always have a paying job also with pension benefits to eh and in the mean time eh Nigel Simon why don’t you also profile our players in the newspapers eh, with their pictures eh, the same like what Mr Live Wire Lasana is doing eh, and like what use to be done long time ago with our great players like Ron La Forest, Sammy, Nevick Denoon, etc. etc. so that our nowadays players can also safe their newspapers clippings to show their sons/daughters and family in the future eh and cuzz Gordon Pierre continue with your passion for the youths eh and never give up and we shall definitely rise again….BOOM.

  5. yes uncle Earl Mango Pierre it was good vibes and congrats
    to Caledonia the team needed that!! Shout out to d gaffa Jamaal Shabazz i need to get an interveiw!!

  6. Nigel Simon I really like the marketing strategy that was used doh with respect to allowing the Flow Professional Youth League U16 to play before the final eh, hence the reason why there were more crowd support than normal especially with their mothers and fathers being there to also support them, so maybe they can continue this same strategy during the normal season and in this way the young ballers can watch our real professional players play the game and that will inspire them to follow in their footsteps ent Gordon Pierre.

  7. And I thought that we was supposed to link up at the game eh lol

  8. Mango poor referees are everywhere like u ent watch Orlando city game d other day as well as la liga as well as English league or what

  9. also there are a lot of players with so much ability but can’t handle or maintain grades or school work at a college so trying 2 force them 2 become students would only end in disaster and they will end up college dropouts living in brooklyn liming and playing minor league

    • I don’t have any disagreement with this statement. School is not for everyone

    • Dion Sosa yuh speaking about me there yes, because when I received my football scholarship to attend L.I.U (Long Island University) eh, I wasn’t on no books nah I wanted to fly planes so I went and took the exam to get into the US Air Force but I was told that I missed the marks needed to get into there and I was then told that I cudda joined the other Army, Marines, and Navy eh, well I decided to take the scholarship and go to school but I lasted 3 yrs and then dropped out because I lost my scholarship due to my grades eh, well after this happened I got a job and then I decided that I wanted to be a police officer so I returned to our sweet country and joined our police service spent five years and then returned to the America and joined the United Nations where I spent 27 yrs eh. I will always encourage our players that they must always take the opportunity when they receive a football scholarship and make certain that they get their degrees and then go on to their professional careers but as you said not all players are into the books and yes I have seen a few who dropped out and playing football in Brooklyn even for my team back in the days. I met Raoul Roger Romain and he introduced me to the young man Ricardo John at the game and I shared my testimony with him and told him to keep positive and to never give up on his dreams, so lets keep him in our prayers eh my people.

    • Thanks a lot man…appreciate it!!!

    • Looking forward to see you do great things like my Hero eh. Lol

    • And of course like our local Hero……BOOM.

    • And another one who played along side Pele and Becky for the N. Y. Cosmos who also had dropped out of school eh, to go after his professional dream, and then returned and eventually got his degree eh, our very own Richard Chinapoo who also attended L.I.U. including Derrick Lewis, Carlye Andrews (Army) Kerry Babb, Bertrand Francis who returned to our sweet country after graduating and thenn became the Mayor of Point Fortin, Charles O” Brady, Michael Wharton. Fatima, (R.I.P.)

  10. Buh A A is all this bacchanal I missed because I went to see the Lucozade final tonight between W- Connection vs Caleidona eh, and look who I ran into eh, The Magician himself Russell Laterpy eh after 30 yrs since when I last saw him in our sweet country before he departed to go on the other side of the World over there in Scotland eh, and the game was decided on penalties as usual eh, and Morvant Caleidona were the winners, but of course because of the bootleg officiating to eh Nigel Simon and that is another reason why I does call it a bootleg professional league eh, one of the linesman a young fella doesn’t have a clue about running lines and that was the same linesman that we saw running the lines in a game San Jabolteh Vs Army in Barataria some time ago ent Dion Sosa that was making plenty mistakes running the lines eh, so I really didn’t understand how he was chosen to do this important final eh but on the other hand it was a very good game yeah and W- Connection should have been the victors eh Them really good yes

  11. not everybody is a potential professional so I would only advise someone who in my capacity as a scout I believe has what it takes 2 make it abroad

  12. The key word dion used here is have the ability. Too many kids that don’t have the ability have entered. If we use the NBA example only a selective few came straight from highschool to the pros and was successful. If a kid isn’t given a chance to go overseas before 18. He should try to play in college

    • This discussion we have had for years. In some cases the kids even with the ability decides to go to school. Still nothing is wrong with that. Just like the chances of going pro at a young age. You still not guaranteed to get drafted. Same percentage in my opinion. Unless you have a talent like Levi Garcia, or any of the overseas guys you should go to school.

  13. I don’t advise everyone but its similar 2 the nba draft if a super talent has the ability 2 forgo college he is advised 2 enter the draft but not everyone is successful but some are willing 2 take that chance

  14. Are we seriously advising Youths to forego a chance of a College education.

    One injury, then what? Hopefully get a job here at SPORTT?

  15. Honestly it’s an honest mistake. If you are not educated on the rules you can be in violation. So the mistake is made. You live you learn

  16. Who guiding these youngsters hmmmm

  17. muckette made that choice cause he wanted 2 play professionally and I spoke with him and advised him 2 take the opportunity if it came available cause the football window is like 5 to 7 yrs while he can always go back 2 school their is no window for education

  18. Just by the fact that he chose to play pro means his head is going pro, if he calculates that two years at a pro team is more effective than 2 years at college then that’s his decision and he has to make it work! Ricardo is a very good player and by God’s grace this may be his best decision yet! I don’t want to involve others in this but I once heard someone say negative things about mauckette for leaving college and now he plays professionally in Portugal. The sky is the limit. You live and you learn

    • Well said Tevin, that’ s a great point

    • There are many other who left college and are very successful eg. Mikell awai.

    • Good luck to the young man but it’s a terrible decision. Two years is not not a long time to wait. He could end up being in the Premier League and he could also end up a bum on the block too

    • The World Cup is in 2018, play at the World Cup or wear your cap and gown! Two years is crucial when your country needs a marksman because kenwyne is going down in age and you have enough faith to make tough decisions…..most crazy success stories began with “terrible” decisions! Support the youthman! central fc have quite a few players who graduated from top universities as all conference players so what’s the big bad idea in taking a head start

    • Brent, as the Bible says life and death is in the power of the tongue, we ought to be careful on how we remark on people lives. He does not have bumb qualities but rather has national genes, his mother was a national netball player, his sister is a national player, he is destined to succeed.

    • It’s a dream and I have no issue with him chasing his dream… doesn’t mean he didn’t make poor decisions though

    • Brent, I felt poorly too, but poor decisions are relative

    • He’s got a loonnggg way to go bro… don’t make it seem like he’s He’s a finished product. He did well at VA Tech but he could not dominate in the ACC…. albeit it is the toughest conference in the NCAA Division 1.

    • Trinidadians do not love football, we definitely do not love the soca warriors! We have lost so much talented players to universities…..Knox is a prime example of how easily college can wither away your career…..life is about risk and reward at times so you never know!! Trinidad is the only country where a national u23 forward decides to take his career more seriously and people moan about it…………Zuggy did not mistakenly play for central it was a conscious decision and we as a nation need to stand by our ballers instead of criticizing every move they make on and off the field

    • Awai is successful Raoul? How do you figure that?
      You meant he left a university degree and ended up with Pro League bottom club St Ann’s Rangers and then in the second flight of the Super League?
      I wouldn’t call that a success story if we are judging from a football standpoint.

    • So then why lie? Why not tell the coaches that he wanted to do that? If he wants to play for Central go for it and do the honorable thing and allow the coaches to seek your replacement. Please understand I’m not against Ricardo in any way, but he threw away a golden opportunity for a “chance” at making it. In two years he would have been in the MLS. Now good luck trying to get there.

    • Lasana Liburd Awai is actually an offshore contractor ,football isn’t the only life for some folks and that’s his point he is successful in life ATM

    • Haha.. so offshore had nothing to do with football then? So he didn’t accomplish what we wanted to do?

    • Brent Bennett people in this country only judge others actions Ricardo John won’t regret this move mark my words today he is continuing his studies and for sure he is on a mission I am happy the kid is doing something positive with the society we live in today ….

    • So VA Tech wasn’t positive? You guys are clueless and have no idea of the value of a VA Tech education. There are schools and there are schools…. but at the end of the day he has to do wants best for him and I wish him the best because he has talent. 2 years of sacrifice and he would have had the best of both worlds….

    • Brent Bennett this isn’t something to get personal about regarding your comment “clueless” it’s the kids decision he understands the importance of education that’s why he has enrolled with a school online to continue his degree but this kid heart says professional and if you read the interview it stated that he actually Benefitted at VA Tech both on and off the field God is an awesome God

    • he is a big man and he made a big man decision and he will face big man results! Instead of undermining the pro league we should be happy players are still thirsty to play for our nation! Zuggy isn’t looking for a father in this situation, he is now a professional player on our national roster and the best role we all can play now is to be a fan.

    • Tevin Gilkes this is what I am wondering why people sit on a Sunday and want to make a decision for a guy who is blessed with a father that is well aware of this whole situation and for sure supporting him in his decision …

    • I don’t get that comparison with Awai Adrian. That just sounds like a point against a university education altogether, which is a different debate.
      The other part is that it wasn’t his decision based on his conversation. You all are forgetting that.
      He simply did not know what the repercussions would be. Or maybe he didn’t expect to get caught.
      Either way, Tevin he did not quit school. He lost his scholarship. Two different things.

    • The story behind Ricardo John will soon be published ….

    • It have nothing to publish that I don’t know and won’t say publicly. But I’ll say this. If allyuh publish some rubbish I’ll call you guys out….

    • With all that is being said…. did ricardo leave school before hearing about the NCAA decision or after?….

    • Brent Bennett call who guys out may I ask?

    • Let’s wait for them to publish it

    • Brent Bennett don’t be caught in the gossip facts is the reality of progress

    • Ian he said he left before the decision.

    • Boss you are a natural born liar….. I was told this previously but it is clear to me now. I don’t gossip.. I’m just here to help kids succeed without looking for a dime. I don’t go behind other coaches lobbying for their jobs bro like you partner

    • ^^^ Yeah… on that note I will leave the discussion…. because whoever advising him clearly have no clue as to the ramification s of that decision… Thoroughly ill advised decision making….

    • Adrian Romain i don’t think playing for Central FC for free while on vacation was a well thought out decision to play in the pro-league.

    • Brent Bennett you come at my character now? A liar you state ?
      no problem keep it up pal it’s a good thing gossip is carrying your fingers as we speak because you never dealt with me personally and a few guys will fold up soon….

    • Brent Bennett no offense but if you want to help kids succeed then make decisions on persons under the age of 17, this is a big man we dealing with here, he wants to rule his destiny and has enough balls to do it! You never know what another MAN is going through or cooking in his oven. Let’s have faith and try to promote the pro league rather than undermine its ability to provide avenues

    • Eko Watts Ricardo arrived in Trinidad a Thursday night and by Friday he was in central Fc training the kid is well aware what he is getting himself into and it’s all takes time …

    • Clearly the young man wants to play football and he’s got his wish..

    • For the record I have a 20 year old so and he’s not a “big man” as you are making Zuggy out to be. He needs proper advice and I’m hopeful he got good, sound advice

    • We have teachers who have impacted negatively on students and left their careers for dead, they forged their birthpaoers and CXC slips for them to play intercol in an effort for their school to succeed and it backfired, however the students were very resilient to succeed and are doing so gradually. A long way to go maybe correct, with the right support Ricardo will succeed

    • Getting personal is not the solution here, there are people that are giving false information to ya all brent to hide themselves and make other people look bad, I dont gossip nor even be on this social media crap for this same reason, in due course the truth will come to the head about all the liars around here

    • I used the analysis of Mikelle just to state that life is life and whatever decision a man makes he has to stand by it and be willing to stand up and be counted.

    • Ricardo will do well, in all adversity there are opportunities, VA is big but life is Bigger.

    • Ok. Fair enough on Mickel. Although obviously it wasn’t a decision that helped his football.
      From what I was told, Ricardo John did not make a decision though. He made a mistake. And now he is going to try to make the most of his current options.That’s fair enough. But I don’t understand why people are are saying to respect his decision when he didn’t make a decision to leave school. That was thrust upon him.

    • The healthy thing about this is that he sets a guite for upcoming youths and deciision makers

    • Well said Lasana, fron the article he was backed into that decision. If he didnt play those games for free he would currently have a paid scholarship

  19. What is very interesting is that young Ricardo John when accepted at VA Techs offer approximately two years ago was in for high praises at the time of acceptance.

  20. but I have chosen to keep my advice 2 myself cause it have a bunch of idiots who only reading what I saying and have a problem with it so let them guide and advise this players cause they seem 2 know best

  21. Well common sense has eluded our footballers too. Wouldn’t it be obvious to ask your school, who paying your tuition if you can play for another club ? This sounds (sorry to sound blunt) brainless ! Unless he wanted to drop out off school.

  22. Goodness, he seriously thought there would be no issue? I think that from his reaction he knew this was a possible outcome as he clearly wanted to just pursue the foreign contract. Whether or not he made a bad move will be for him to decide years from now. I think the club would have known this could be an issue though and if they did, then they should have also told him about it.

  23. players know about the ncaa rules and he chose 2 play on his own just like most young players they always never take anyone”s advice which I don’t think he got anyway but I am sure a 100000 percent certain he knew his eligibility would be affected if he played with a professional club

  24. Well as the saying goes eh, everything does happen for a reason eh, and I am hoping that Dexter Skenne and our Professional League really put something in place to stop this madness from ever happening again eh. Them really good yes.

  25. All that glitters is not gold as the old folks say

  26. Because our national athletes who r still at schools in the USA are supposed to be provided with elite funding and bcuz of the ncaa rule it’s place in a fund for when they r done via their national sporting body

  27. Yeah ah coming to watch the final between W- Connection the only real professional team in our sweet country VS Caleidonia later in the Stadium eh Nigel Simon so see you there meh brother.

  28. And I also believe it’s once the player does not sign a pro contract

  29. Nigel Simon The league must know all the players that are attending college VS all the players that are playing professional ball eh, and if that isn’t the case eh, well you will now understand why I always say that it is a bootleg professional league and I dun talk. Them really good yes.

  30. Even though rules don’t apply in Trini everywhere else in the world Rules mean something…. Fact: ever since man getting schol from Trini, we know yuh cyah play any kinda ball unless it sanctioned…. In the 80-90s because of a lack of internet we ALL were able to play with clubs in off season without being caught…. WE ALL at some point played in Brooklyn league (ent Brent Bennett)…lol… So Central had a right to know that they had no right to make anything available for public knowledge in relation to potential or actual university players because it could result in loss of eligibility …. the guys involved with Central are not as ignorant as they may appear…. greedy yes.. but not ignorant….

    • He’s a good kid that was advised poorly by people close to him. It’s unfortunate….. The difference in playing in Brooklyn was we risked losing our scholarships if we got hurt but we weren’t violating any NCAA rules per se. Playing in a pro leauge is very risky

    • actually, playing in brooklyn and someone mentioned it to a coach could have resulted in loss of scholarship…. the rule has not changed really… it has expanded due to the growth of MLS and pro team academies…..

    • but you are right…. playing for Barataria ball players in Barataria and playing with Central FC is two different animal….. but the result will be the same….. Hence the creation of the PDL league which allows kids to play in a sanctioned league without fear of losing eligibility…. A few MLS teams have teams in this league and they get professional coaching…. when you are playing with other people’s money you have a responsibility to keep your self in the game… ignorance is not an excuse….

    • Nah sah. They encouraged us to play somewhere. My coach was fully aware I was playing in Brooklyn

    • yes….. because he was not going to say anything….. lol…. most know and turned blind eye because they figured that you had to stay fit somehow….. the rule was and still is a stupid one….If another coach reported you could have lost eligibility…… which is why they encouraged us to play “away” from the university…. Brooklyn was a hike away from VA and more than likely no coach from Va was going to recognize you in Brooklyn league..lol

    • What made it illegal? What rule are you referring to?

    • We were always told to join a team for the summer?

    • Horse we were told be careful…. don’t get caught…..

    • If you’re playing in an amateur leauge there are no implications to my knowledge. The key was not getting hurt

    • Yes we know about the “cant get money” as it would end eligibility… and also getting hurt in a non university sanctioned event and not being able to play made you eligible for loss of scholarship… but I believe we were not supposed to play even in amateur games…. you could play pick up games but not “league type” games….

    • That’s not true Brigo… never been. College players play in the PDL every summer….

    • Brent, Ricardo was not ill advised as you are implying, that staement is totally unfounded as Ricardo was actually advised by all the close people to him to continue College. Ricardo like all adults has a sound mind of his own and is quite passionate about soccer.

    • Still a dumb decision. Only time will tell though. He is not sure fire to make it pro so I hope he does well. Players don’t typically leave college to play in the TT pro leauge or the PDL division in the states. …I don’t know his plan but I do hope is has one….

    • B, are you saying he could could have been eligible to play with VT in 2017? if so then who would have covered his “bills” since by NCAA stds he had to give up his scholarship?

    • Ian R Briggs Brent Bennett you are allowed to play in the off season. That is during the summer. While your team is in season. Fall and Spring you are not allow to play for any other team. If your school didn’t train in the spring you can play. The only time you can play most of the times is in the summer.

    • Ian R Briggs if I were in his position I would have finished the semester and be academically eligible for the 2016 season. If the NCAA ruled against him I don’t know what VaTech would have done but if it didn’t work out then you go the pro route because you had no other option.

    • Well regardless you finish the semester AND WAIT for the decision… leaving like he did only fuels fire that he did get paid while playing for Central (fleeing is admission of guilt even if you are not guilty)… and still NCAA had to prove he lost his amateur status by playing for a pro team and getting paid…..

  31. When u in Trini we will chat more

  32. So these players don’t have parents as well who should take a keen interest in their decision makings

  33. Both player and club at fault n until brought to the league attention they cannot act

  34. Well if the players are involved in the corrupted practices with the club and the league does not know how can u blame Skeene bro

  35. And we hardly get that no matter the sport bro n u well know that

  36. And I will always blame the President Skeene and TT PRO LEAGUE because he knows that the owners and coaches will do corrupted things, just to get players to play for them and don’t even care about jeapodizing their futures eh, and you should know that also Nigel especially that you is a sports reporter

  37. A paying audience will help a club generate funds

  38. And don’t even speak about John public because we don’t support our own and then quick to compare with what takes place abroad