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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.

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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240 comments

  1. Cyrus is contradicting his aunt who said he had a glass of Bailey’s. Who’s not telling the truth?

  2. It failed too many times. All the goals came through him.

  3. Joann, I am not a coach, but believe that Cyrus is a right side central defender not a right back. Playing him out of position in such a key position of right back is a decision the coach made based on his resources.

  4. I think may be they are being to hard on the guys . What about if someone spill alcohol on their clothes while fixing the spare tyre they were not drinking poor innocent guys ???????????????????

  5. After the SHIT Cyrus play in the first two world cup qualifier I feel he drink rum to because he can’t play that just so.

  6. The missing ingredient. Discipline.

  7. this new coach is an a$$

    but he DID drop Kenwyn Jones and bring Cornell Glen back into the team….

    So it means he know MORe about Foootball than 90% of the jack arses in T&T ….

    I though Hart had the fortitude to drop that clown Jones..
    Hart did himself in, and Jones’s failure was hart’s failure…

    Hart has no one to blame but himself…
    He should have ditched Jones ages ago ….

  8. Why didn’t you call the TTFA or a Manager? Feel all yuh to MC big… I eh doubtful of what you saying yuh know but you should do better.

  9. Tanty say he had one drink of Baileys.

  10. Oh gosh man! The boy got a puncture in front the bar he had yo borrow a jack fromm the barman so yuh wha him borrow the jacket just so?
    That eh making any sense, he had two buy a beer or 2, 3, 4

  11. This is our problem……we are too Deliquent…..it is about time someone takes a stand on this…..they cannot make this mistake in a foreign country….

  12. Smh. I would like a flat tyre like that. Clown

  13. Bruce I hear u but I want Cyrus of d team long time. So situations like this I refer to as the Al Capone.

    They got him for something. So Cyrus off the team the means may not justify the ends but happy he is gone.

    Plus if yuh coming late with a man spelling of alcohol you will be guilty by association.

  14. Are we not still in a democracy? Is someone not innocent until proven guilty?
    Why did the coach smell alcohol on the breath of one player and decide that the other is guilty? Had he continued to check to see the flat tyre

  15. It’s called a personal jab …I’m ok with it

  16. There is something call a cell phone

  17. Not sure how Molino end up in your post though

  18. Was the coach the “only person” who detected alcohol ?

  19. He isn’t even that good as a right back he should have been dropped ages ago

    • I swear I was the only one that felt that he wasn’t all that…
      He makes so much mistakes at the back …..

    • In his defence he is a centre back and the wider position is alot different. We have a youngster who was in ssfl just over 2 years ago by the name Shannon Gomez. He is a right back playing for New York City FC. That means he’s training with guys like Pirlo, Lampard and Villa under the management of Patrick Vieira. I’d honestly have given him a chance in the friendlies and see if he is worth it. Anyone but Cyrus at this point

    • Felix Atasha No bredda you not the only one…evidently MLS teams felt the same way, hence the reason why he doing it in the pro league back home…yuh see the sitter he miss last Friday:(

  20. I had a flat tyre so I said f**k that I going for a drink

  21. to the folks on this link, please be honest with yourself and keep it real.
    These guys got called up to an impromptu training camp to fly away from their families at a very special time of the year; completely unforeseen, then got penalized for showing up 90 minutes late. The last coach and team rejected an impromptu game.
    I am telling you guys this coach is going to follow his Jamaican and Haitian counterparts and lineup an European born/base team against Panama. This team he farting around with will not line up against Panama and Mexico.

  22. Sean Powder

    This revelation regardless of whether 100% or 50% correct confirms why I was so uncomfortable with the initial report and response by the Coach. Frankly, I was shocked by the bravado and arrogance of the coach in his response to the indiscipline and unprofessional conduct of his players. Furthermore, it is not the first time he has OVER reacted to common matters with players. What happens in the SQUAD should stay in the SQUAD, Football business must be resolved with the player, team and management not in PUBLIC.

    Tom the Cat trying to be a Tiger but will prove to be a Paper Tiger!

    He seems to have one tool in his tool bag of discipline; send players home. Tom seems to have had the same responses with players and administrators in “third world” Africa.

    How will this win him the dressing room? Who will show commitment and go to war for a manager with this emotional disposition? Will DJW be pleased with so many of his players sent home?

    I observed the managers of Joey Barton, Mario Balotelli, Paul Gascoigne even the vampire Saurez standing by their players publicly and treating their transgressions delicately. Then again, those are world class players with world class managers; I guess we get what we paid for and our players are not quite world class yet.

    Someone said Tom has a psychology degree, if he does he must not have taken a class in cultural relativism because he doesn’t understand the players actions relative to their culture and how to deal with them.

  23. Poor officiating from Mike Dean and team. 3 points to Manu again…

  24. I noticed that no one ☝️ is giving the player a chance. Isn’t it possible that what he said happened ?% factual?

  25. The BOAT RIDE probably went a BIT late.LMAO

  26. Allyuh peeps have a real mob mentality …… every situation has to be treated on “merit” this defines wether or not someone is judgemental. If Cyrus was legitimately late because he had a flat tire and attempted to get in touch with coaches there is nothing wrong with that. If the man is being judged because the player he came with is drunk and HE isnt then that’s a judgemental call by association and that’s unfair. You guys can talk all you want about years of indiscipline and all that ish ….I’m ok with him dropping the primadonnas for not showing (Molino is rubbish to me ) but if you taking out your frustrations on other players because you having a rough day …it shows why you’re a coach that only DJW could find. Right is right fair is fair. I wonder if you guys would be so quick to abandon your player and side with that “half head belgian” if it was Carlos etc and not Cyrus. Fair is fair !!!

  27. Daz a Jack-arse excuse… he better wheel and come again and spare we wid da BS… ?

  28. For that man to smell alcohol on the other player breath meant that man had more than one drink. And even if you had a drink there is such a thing like chewing gum or mouthwash that you could have used before going there. Being that Cyrus picked him up from his house? Again, this is all part of that learned behavior of laid back anything is anything behavior that has been reinforced in our society and has now become a part of our cultural worldview. Im not againt the coach on his decision with williams at least.

  29. Lasana Liburd can I troll this post… I mean… we’ve had almost all of the best criticisms and advice from some of the most die-hard football fans in trini… there’s not much else to do but make light of the situation!

  30. THIS IS A BLESSING IN DISGUISE , CYRUS IS PISSING POOR .

  31. I fully endorse the coaches’ decisions cmon we all HD that excuse already. I reached late to work because in had a flat tyre.

  32. I think football in Trinidad is about to reach somewhere now,i like Saintfiet attitude

  33. I think the coach is seeing a pattern of tardiness and was fed up of hearing excuses for late coming. In this case he sent his message early and Peter paid for Paul.

    I didn’t see Cyrus indicating when he got the flat tyre, but where. So maybe he was already running late and the flat tyre and additional pickup just made him later.

  34. He said he spoke.with the manager

  35. A flat tyre smalls like alcohol….

  36. I am sure the coach talked to his assistant coaches and made a decision on this….

  37. And the late entrant for ” chupidee of the year….drum roll….Daniel Cyrus.

  38. The nitrogen in the tire got all on meh clothes…he believable like the woman who went paranging for a week. Ah wonder if he geh kidnap?

  39. Everyone is expert on changing tires and proper protocol

  40. So hear this nah Lasana Liburd. Lets assume that he really did get a flat tire. Did he also not have a phone to call and say he will be late? #jessaskin

  41. Comedy team. Comedy management. A professional footballer having trouble for transport? I would think that someone will have a little bit of foresight to mabe hire a taxi before time? Or make arrangements with someone to get a ride. A flat is also no excuse to be 90 mins late.

  42. Discipline, on and off the field, is an essential core factor for success. It’s one of the prime factors critical for T&T football to move forward. All (TTFA leadership, management, players, and coaching training staff) must be held accountable for respective responsibilities and actions. No excuses should be tolerated. I recall Thierry Henry while playing a game for Arsenal being benched second half even though he scored the only goal in the first half… his coach’s plan was for him to stay on the right side but in frustration, Thierry Henry switched to the left side. Although he scored he was benched one and a half games. Discipline is an essential factor. Soca Warriors lack discipline.

  43. Cyrus driving an 18 wheeler owa ? In Trinidad so many people stop to assist, unbelievable that absolutely no one did…so he eh flag down anyone…not a police jeep self…hmmm

  44. ^^^^isn’t he also Muslim?…