Home / Volley / Global Football / Cyrus: I had a flat tyre; and didn’t touch alcohol! T&T defender responds to Saintfiet

Cyrus: I had a flat tyre; and didn’t touch alcohol! T&T defender responds to Saintfiet

Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus insisted he did not have a drop of alcohol on New Year’s Day and said he felt unfairly vilified after coach Tom Saintfiet told the media that Cyrus and his former W Connection teammate, Jomal Williams, came to camp late and smelling of alcohol.

Both players were axed from the Trinidad and Tobago squad to face Suriname and Haiti in 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff action on Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon respectively at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago's Daneil Cyrus (centre) hurdles Mexico player Adrian Aldrete (left) while his teammate Carlos Pena looks on in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.     (Copyright AFP 2014/ John Amis)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Daneil Cyrus (centre) hurdles Mexico player Adrian Aldrete (left) while his teammate Carlos Pena looks on in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinal at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
(Copyright AFP 2014/ John Amis)

However, Cyrus said his reputation could be unfairly tarnished by Saintfiet’s statements. And, although he stressed he did not want conflict with the Soca Warriors coach, the defender disputed any suggestion that he touched alcohol before joining the team camp.

“People think I came into camp smelling of alcohol,” Cyrus told Wired868. “[Saintfiet] asked Jomal: ‘You are smelling of alcohol’? And [Jomal] said ‘Yes, I took a drink with my family’.

“He never told me anything about that. And I never took a drink.”

Saintfiet’s exact words to the media were:

“Two of the players came one and a half hours too late in camp and had still decent smell of alcohol around him (sic). That was Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams. Both were immediately sent home, back to party but are replaced in the squad.” 

Cyrus, who has 62 full international caps, tried to explain the chain of events that led to him being dropped from the national team.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus controls the ball during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action against Cuba. (Courtesy: Arianna Grainey)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus controls the ball during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action against Cuba.
(Courtesy: Arianna Grainey)

The Connection defender, who also played professionally in Vietnam and the United States, said he got a flat tyre while driving to the team’s camp in Claxton Bay and realised he did not have a jack in his vehicle. He was in St Helena at the time.

Cyrus claimed he then called a friend who came from Santa Rosa in Arima to help him change his tyre.

The setback meant he was over an hour late to meet his teammates at the Cara Suites Hotel. All players were supposed to be at the hotel by noon but, according to Cyrus, he got there at 1.26pm.

On the way, he said he picked up Williams, who was supposedly having trouble getting a taxi to the Cara Suites. Cyrus said he relayed his mishaps to the technical staff via national teammates Alvin Jones and Aikim Andrews, who are both also Connection players.

“I called and told Alvin what happened,” said Cyrus. “And then Aikim called and he put on the manager, Azaad [Khan], who told me the coach was mad…”

Cyrus said when he and Williams got to the hotel, he went to see Saintfiet who immediately demanded to see the flat tyre to verify the defender’s story. He said they were heading to check the flat when the Belgian coach got a whiff of his teammate.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Jomal Williams (centre) tries hold off Costa Rica defenders Johnny Acosta (left) and Francisco Calvo during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Jomal Williams (centre) tries hold off Costa Rica defenders Johnny Acosta (left) and Francisco Calvo during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Everything changed quickly after that.

“The coach asked me to see the flat tyre that I changed and I said okay,” said the 26-year-old Cyrus. “But before we could do that, he said: ‘Jomal, you are smelling of alcohol’? And Jomal told him that he took a drink before he came with his family.

“And then coach told us to wait in the lobby. And when he came back, he said: ‘Okay, you can go home. Go and party’.”

Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to reach Williams for his account of what transpired.

Cyrus said he was stunned by Saintfiet’s reaction but shook the coach’s hand and left. He insisted that he is fully committed to representing Trinidad and Tobago.

“It wasn’t anything that I could control,” said Cyrus, who is a former two-time World Youth Cup player. “I am fully committed to play for my national team—anytime!”

Tall, mobile and aggressive, Cyrus was considered one of Trinidad and Tobago’s top prospects when he broke into the senior squad, six years ago. But, like most of his teammates, he disappointed in 2016.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Cyrus looked especially vulnerable in the Warriors’ two World Cup qualifying defeats in the Hex to Costa Rica and Honduras. But he held his hands up and admitted that his performances have not been good enough.

“I wasn’t really at my best for the last two [World Cup qualifying] games and everybody knows that,” said Cyrus. “I know that too. Sometimes a player might be going through a good patch and sometimes a player is going through a bad patch.

“For the Guatemala match [on 2 September 2016], I thought I had an okay game but for the last two games I really wasn’t at my best. I am not hiding. I just had two bad games.”

Cyrus plays central defence for Connection but was a regular at right back under former National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart. And, in his two outings under Saintfiet, he appeared in central midfield.

“I can play anywhere on the field, once I get time to adjust to the position,” he said. “A footballer should be able to play anywhere on the field. In the last game [against Nicaragua], I even got a chance one on one [with the opposing goalkeeper] and I missed…

“I do prefer to play centre back, honestly. But any position they let me play, I play it to the best of my ability.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (centre) and Dr Terence Babwah (left) talk to defender Carlyle Mitchell during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (centre) and Dr Terence Babwah (left) talk to defender Carlyle Mitchell during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

Cyrus will have to look on from the outside as Trinidad and Tobago try to book their place at the Gold Cup without him. The Warriors face Suriname from 7pm on Wednesday at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

He hopes his stay on the sidelines is brief, though. And he insists that he did not have an alcoholic drink on New Year’s Day.

AboutLasana 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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240 comments

  1. While Bruce Arena putting things in place for the US to win the friggin hex, we coach telling Cyrus them to go home and party and telling Cornell Glenn that he could bring the baby to the hotel and somebody could pick up the baby later:)

    I will continue to enjoy the humor and wait until qualification for 2022 WC before I take these fellahs seriously…bring the baby and someone will pick her up later hahahaha

  2. sooooo….Tanty lie den? o.O

  3. Bro as i keep saying we just have to sit back and watch this BS, as much as we lov this game and want to see our country do well its hard to watch this play out!!!! More to come SMH!!!

  4. See if this wasn’t about football and FB people just chiming in with their opinions about an ungrateful woman with an HDC I wouldn’t mind…but yo this is serious WC aspirations stuff man.
    This is about a man in charge who carries himself like a low-life, third world dictator.
    This is about a no-name, no-resume (I’ll take the least amount of money you all are offering) coach who was embarrassed like a little boy at his introduction.
    This is about no-poise totally-expendable Daniel Cyrus, lying (yes he blatantly lied when he said he didn’t have a drop of alcohol!) and being sold out by his Aunty Phyllis.
    This is about Joevin Jones and Kevin Molino being un-motivated to play for the country.

    This is about the hurt and abject frustration felt by the true, legit fans (those who follow the team religiously) who have to sit here and watch one debacle after another unfold…smh

  5. Great to hear from Jomal admitted he was wrong now he can move on and fight for his place on the team if he wants to represents T & T good luck bro.

  6. Jomal Williams must be given credit for his forthrightness and honesty. Also very thoughtful and professional approach . He sounded sincere and contrite and it’s all that we can ask. I hope that the coach can accommodate him going forward

    • I do respect his explanation and apology but what TNT needs is also players that are not willing to play Russian roulette with their careers ??

    • Kurtwyn Baird I agree with you. I’m not condoning anything here. I stated right here a few months ago when Molino and two other players broke the curfew that a stiffer penalty should have been applied (more than the $6000 match fee). Had a stiff penalty been levered we probably won’t be having this now. I just liked the heartfelt apology form the youngster

  7. Lol… yuh mean d all important “check” that Michael Samuel forgot to include in his New Years Resolution… ????

  8. I wonder if those players who gave up Christmas with their families to represent Trinidad and Tobago in Nicaragua got their match fees and per diems yet?
    Not saying they didn’t. I genuinely don’t know… But I will find out sooner or later.

  9. Whatever happened to a phone call?

  10. Knowing he was on his way.
    #devilsadvocate

  11. Would you drop a player for reaching camp late

    • Was that a serious question Timothy? The team has been plagued with indiscipline over the last few months. The lack of discipline has contributed significantly to our current predicament (i.e. WC qualification and Gold Cup qualification). It’s time to put a stop to the unprofessional and childish behavior of our national team players, both young and old. The player left home late, claimed he suffered a flat tire, but yet didn’t feel the need to contact the manager or coach before the scheduled arrival time. Totally irresponsible behavior. He deserved to be dropped and my only hope is that he learns from this lesson. We need to start holding these players accountable.

    • Thanks Carlos Lee, just put the question out there to see if anyone would have handled the situation differently.

  12. But then,Cara suites is really a good drive from Arima so flat or not he would of been later,l drive that route every day and there is always traffic in Marabella!

  13. Better he get dropped he not even good all the goals score dow the right side

  14. Riiggggghhhhtttt…Daniel Cyrus. Smh. The patterns of behavior with these players are habitual..
    “I believe ya” ?

  15. Wait nah . How long it does take to change a flat tire ?

  16. Hear what dan…is different management so you have to tighten up on certain things that you would have probably overlooked or be relaxed with for instancs communication, punctuality. According to you
    the gaffer asked to see the flat tyre so you know he just not taking any excuse just like that. Let this be a learning experience and you have pledge your commitment to red, white and black so hopefully you will get back in soon. My youth, discipline and unwavering commitment are required for qualification to Russia next year or we can just forget about it.

  17. Them guys feel is ah show thing, it int no show, is work

  18. Do you consider all this publicity bad player management?

  19. I have studied our coach methods and it’s sad to say he would not be a coach that have the best players able to compete at the highest levels,but he would have the players that are willing to comply to rules….not seeing any hope with that method getting us through the Hex… but I support his stance??