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We have no respect for Stern! Stars slam T&T assistant coach after on-field insults

North East Stars head coach Derek King and at least two members of his playing staff have condemned the behaviour of Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coach and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John, after several heated verbal exchanges at Couva last night which left players disgusted and fearful of victimisation.

John, who is Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time record scorer with 70 goals from 114 international appearances, was on duty as Central FC coach and, for the second straight match, decided to play himself from the start.

Photo: Saddle Hill striker and Trinidad and Tobago Hall of Fame athlete Stern John prepares to come on as a substitute in 2015/16 CNG National Super League (NSL) action against Barrackpore United.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

But it was not a happy time for John or Central as Stars humiliated them 6-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium after leading by four goals at halftime.

By the final whistle, it was King and his squad who were livid, though, as they alleged that John taunted Stars players about their skills—or their supposed lack thereof—and their inability to break into the “Soca Warriors” team for which he serves as assistant to head coach Dennis Lawrence.

At present, left-back Kevon Villaroel is the only Stars player on the national squad although the Arima-based team are four points clear at the top of the Pro League standings and employ the likes of Yohance Marshall, Rundell Winchester, Julius James, Duane Muckette, Kishun Seecharan, Keston George, Kevon Goddard, Jomoul Francois, Kerry Baptiste and Densill Theobald.

The crosstalk, according to two Stars players who spoke on condition of anonymity, started in the second half when James—a former 2001 Under-17 World Youth Cup player, MLS employee and Hermann Trophy candidate with the University of Connecticut (UConn)—flattened John with a tackle that was whistled as a foul.

John’s response, according to a Stars player, was to call James “a shit player.”

Photo: Then Central FC defender Julius James (right) looks for passing options during Pro League action against Defence Force at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 24 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“That is why you can’t make the national team!” John allegedly taunted James.

James, who is 33 and has 16 senior international caps for the Warriors, was selected in Lawrence’s first national team to play Barbados but declined the invitation to sign a one-year deal with United States team Sacramento Republic instead. He has not been recalled since.

It was only the beginning of John’s supposed tirade.

“He started to tell players that they were shit and that they were not going to get paid at the end of the month,” said one player. “He told Keston George (a versatile 24-year-old player who was Central FC captain just two months ago) that he was shit and had a shit touch and only made the national team because he made it happen…

“I used to have respect for Stern John but it is hard for me now.”

George was called up to train with the Warriors—while still a Central player—in April before a friendly international away to Grenada although he did not make the final squad. He has not been invited to rejoin the squad since.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coach Stern John (foreground) leads the squad in training at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar on 8 March 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Wired868 tried without success to reach John for a comment. King told Wired868 that he phoned Lawrence immediately after the match to complain.

“I called Dennis last night and told him as a national coach that was real poor from Stern,” said King, who was assistant to ex-head coach Stephen Hart and John’s former international teammate. “How can you have a national team technical staff member playing against guys who are aspiring to make the national team and telling them things like that?”

According to one Stars player, John was disrespecting the game and the Pro League by even being on the field—let alone his demeanour.

A former Premier League player with Birmingham and Sunderland, John, who is now 40, hasn’t played top flight football in Trinidad for five years. His inserting himself into the Central starting team meant that versatile attacker Jem Gordon and his own son, Tyrik John, had to settle for spots on the bench.

“You’re fat and you’re unfit and you’re 40-years-old,” one Stars player commented, “so what are you doing on the field?”

“If a camera was there to scout players and they see you on the field looking like that, then you are bringing the whole level of the competition down. You’re disrespecting the game and you have to have more respect for yourself than that.”

Photo: Then WASA striker and Trinidad and Tobago legend Stern John (centre) has a word with referee Neal Brizan during the 2014-15 domestic season.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

The player was not yet finished.

“To make it worse, you’re a national team coach and you should be there scouting players, not trying to fight up with them and talking shit as an unfit, overweight player while your team is getting whipped…

“Come on man, understand your role! I know it is all banter but you must have respect for yourself and others as a national team coach.”

His Stars teammate claimed that John also made withering comments about his opposing coach, King.

“He told players to look at what your payslip is going to be at the end of the month,” said the player, “[because] allyuh Mickey Mouse coach selling allyuh dreams…”

At present, John’s record as a head coach reads thus: one draw and three losses with one goal scored and 12 conceded.

King, at 37, is an Under-20 Caribbean Cup champion coach, a former Pro League Coach of the Year and, if Stars stay on top the League at the end, he will become only the second Pro League coach to win titles at different clubs after Englishman Terry Fenwick.

Fenwick won at San Juan Jabloteh and Central while King is already a former winner with Joe Public.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Derek King (second from right) has a moment with his squad during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Even if you are in a game and you’re mad, those are the kind of things you are spewing?” asked the Stars player. “It goes to show where the mindset of the national team reach if this is the thinking and behaviour of an assistant coach on the national team.

“He is out of retirement now, so is he going to put himself up for selection? […] Now our players are feeling victimised because he is the assistant coach so in some capacity he will have influence with [the national team selection]…

“It really all started from the foul [on him by James]. I don’t know if he thought we would have taken it easy on him and tip-toed around him but we have a job to do. And if he wants to disrespect the game and the League to come out and play when there are younger players looking for the opportunity, then that is on him.”

Wired868 was unable to get a response from national team manager Richard Piper on Stars’ complaints up until the time of publication.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from right) talks tactics with his coaching staff (from right) Stuart Charles-Fevrier, Ross Russell, Stern John, Richard Piper and Michael Williams.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

About Lasana 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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228 comments

  1. Two things I would contribute. Anyone who has played, sweated, trained with Mr. John before would know this is his way, style or tactic. I haven’t decide if to say its appropriate or not in this setting. Him playing against potential call ups isn’t a bad thing if we as a footballing body were willing to make a bold move. Our top goal scorer is on the field and can actually gather good intel for recruiting players. He isn’t just looking at stats but has a real chance to see things from the best position. Just food for thought.

  2. Stern is out of his mind…..real madness.

  3. Do we still apply the 1970 coaching style where we embarrass and belittle players into playing, I hope the game has moved on to a more educational and philosophical approach. I totally understand shouting at players, there is a time and place for that.

  4. Non issue… I think they need a hug

  5. D way how john getting on like he was Messi lol!!

  6. What National coach in any other country would suit up to play, and say this to the very same players that are up for National selection, instead of coaching and scouting at the sidelines???

    Do we really feel this is acceptable??

    You can tell your players what you decide at your training, in your dressing room.

    But you are the National coach, I wonder what the former Arsenal player/National assistant coach, and head coach h think about their colleague’s actions?

    You ever hear Doc Rivers go play in a league and belittle men in the Development league who are trying out for an NBA spot

  7. By the time this is over, I feel someone on this thread might hire Stern as a motivational speaker oui.

  8. They all sound like school girls. This is not stuff for the media. You have a problem with a coach then man up and handle it. Stop crying to the media. ‘Oh Stern hurt my feelings. ‘. What do you think NFL and NBA and Premiership coaches say to players? They must think this is a daycare.

  9. Embarrasing to the pro league if this is the level clubs has to resort to it is not healthy for local football what about young players play young players instead it shows that these guys cannot coach .

  10. The man try ah lil ting. Allyuh stop hating nah. Coach Lawrence say he looking for ah striker. Someone has to step up. Stern at 40 cyah be any worst than KJ or one of the other shitty strikers we currently have to choose from.

  11. That starting because you are the coach

  12. I remember when men used to talk trash to get in your head throw you off your game. But when you’re a 40 yr old that starting yourself on the team …you fat, unfit, obzukky and yuh wayyyyy past it and YOUR team collect 6 …..Stern yuh embarrassing yuhself …call for a sub and sit yuh ass down …..

  13. Physical no ,verbal ,no problem ,soca warriors? $stop crying

  14. His true colors is finally in the open he once slapped Akiel Guevara in the dressing room and once attack keron Navarro two fomer team mates if his at north east stars he was brought in to stars to lend some of his experience to younger players an delt with them in the same manner calling them shit .

  15. hahahahaha Alyuh see ah quiet and not saying nutten eh, so doh start meh eh Mr. Live Wire, and just to let Alyuh know that the reason why Boucard stopped playing for our sweet country was because the bootleg Coach Stern John tried that same madness with respect to disrespecting the players and of course alyuh know that my real professional foreign base players will never hold back their tongues and gave the bootleg Stern John piece of his mind eh, so the next thing his other bootleg partner Coach Dennis stopped picking the man yes, and why alyuh think that Keron Ballpest Cummings will never wear the red, white, and black colors eh for the same reason eh, Stern John doesn’t know how to speak to the players and that is because when he played the professional ball in foreign maybe that is how some of the coaches spoke to their players in that manner, always cussing them etc,etc, or maybe it is just who he is and this comes when he cannot really coach and teach nutten about the beautiful game eh. Them really good yes steeuuppss

    • I remember Coach Hart saying he doesn’t tolerate cussing when he’s in the team environment. Maybe we need to return to that way of coaching.

  16. Why is this being taken so lightly, the man is a National Senior Tram Coach, the position comes with responsibility. The behavior of this person, his words etc especially around the game need to always show respect for his office, the game and himself.

    This is surely not the case.

    Any player would have approached him initially wanting to show his ability, and with respect. This is showing how sad the state of affairs of the game is presently.

    • Imagine Gareth Southgate or Gary Neville playing with aspiring England players and telling them they’re shit, or only get a cap as a favor. #ScotchAndCoconutWater

    • That is the point! As long as he is a coach in the national team, Stern John’s comments carry a great deal of menace behind them. This isn’t just in-field picong between opposing players: these are barbs with lingering implications!

  17. I believe that incident precipitated Beckhams departure so maybe not the best example

  18. A total non-issue. Lasana – this article would better fit one of your satirical stories. Men vex because an opponent call them shitty And at the same time they turn around and call the man fat and outer shape .

    • The issue wasn’t what was said but who said it.

    • Yeah – but I think on the field of play and in a competitive game you’re got to separate the player from the assistant coach. Stern was a competitor on the field of play and doing what it took to get a psychological edge on his opponents. As stated in the article Stars players didn’t go easy on him because he was the assistant national team coach. They selectively saw him as an opponent and after the game crying that he said “hurtful” words to them. Smh

    • No wonder our national team can’t seem to compete with the likes of USA, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Those players and their fans does work hard to get a psychological edge on you. They call you all kind of babes. They spit on you during games. They throw stuff on you from the stands. Our boys need to toughen up. It’s a tough world out there.

    • Carlos, Yohance played for us at Gold Cup level and against Messi in Argentina. Julius represented T&T at World Youth Cup level. I think these guys know a thing or two about playing in hostile territory eh. :-/
      Again, they said the issue was who was speaking. And, in case you forgot, Stars won 6-0. So if Stern was playing mind games, won’t you say it was unsuccessful?

    • Lasana – it obviously was unsuccessful, making Stern’s comments during the competitive action even more a non-issue. Lol. The main headline of the story should have been Central FC beaten 6:0 by Stars, but their player/coach wins on the field banter.

  19. This league as well ad national football is a joke on all levels. Best they pack it i. And go and play fete matches on a saturday and after drink beers and eat pelau.

  20. Stern telling men about their first touch ? Nooo

  21. LoLoL . Men complaining bout getting talk. SMH . Social media junkies .
    Soft like shit.

  22. What these players in the pro league needs to do is toughened up is pro football they are playing and not amateur football that’s why it is very hard to go see a game now to match cry cry babies in the so called pro league then ask why we are in this position in world cup qualifiers

  23. It might have been distasteful and very immature & unprofessional … but he eh lie. Especially when it comes to the not being paid part!

  24. Wow uncalled for if this is true. Julius James was actually a solid defender until injuries plagued him, to call him a “shit” player after what he’s been through really is disgraceful. Everything has to change in the football body of Trinidad. Starting with DJW leaving! #djwout

  25. If their touch was so good they’d be playing in better leagues.

    #thetruthhurts

  26. Squatters is what they would call them lmao

  27. I like this part….

    “To make it worse, you’re a national team coach and you should be there scouting players, not trying to fight up with them and talking shit as an unfit, overweight player while your team is getting whipped…”

  28. Its starting to look like the school league is the top league in the country yes

    • No behaviour… I feel you start to lime with Earl Mango Pierre yes! Hahaha

    • hahahahaha Alyuh see ah quiet and not saying nutten eh, so doh start meh eh Mr. Live Wire, and just to let Alyuh know that the reason why Boucard stopped playing for our sweet country was because the bootleg Coach Stern John tried that same madness with respect to disrespecting the players and of course alyuh know that my real professional foreign base players will never hold back their tongues and gave the bootleg Stern John piece of his mind eh, so the next thing his other bootleg partner Coach Dennis stopped picking the man yes, and why alyuh think that Keron Ballpest Cummings will never wear the red, white, and black colors eh for the same reason eh, Stern John doesn’t know how to speak to the players and that is because when he played the professional ball in foreign maybe that is how some of the coaches spoke to their players in that manner, always cussing them etc,etc, or maybe it is just who he is and this comes when he cannot really coach and teach nutten about the beautiful game eh. Them really good yes steeuuppss

  29. The situation described is disgraceful

  30. One of the weirdest articles I have ever read. What is Stern John doing?

  31. Men playing football at any level will be critisized. The great sir Alex Ferguson pelt a boots and hit Beckham. These things happen on a daily basis, it’s only a scene now that players aren’t being paid.

  32. I would love to hear Stern’s side of the story though.
    Trash talk is common in competitive sport and I note the equally insulting comments that anonymous NES players narrated to the writer about John.

  33. hahahahahahahahahaha… ah eh look fuh stern dey nah..but he talking to men bout deh first touch ?

  34. Revamp the entire system.. get rid of all of them…that’s the only way our football will grow…

  35. And what fear of victimisation men worried about? If youa are good enough then their should not be a worry.

    • You serious? So Ataulla Guerra not good? Or Andre Boucaud? Or Levi Garcia? (Remember he was in the squad twice for Lawrence and played once as a sub and not at all in the second match)
      Unless you are playing for Manchester United, whether you get picked for your country or not depends on the subjective opinion of the coaches.
      Boucaud was indispensable under Hart but is not thought of at all under Lawrence. Of course you can feel victimised if you think the coach doesn’t like you.

    • And I’m not saying that any of those three deserve to start necessary. Just that they are all good enough to play but it boils down to the opinion of the national coach. So of course all players would hope that the coaches who make the selection are impartial and would give them a fair chance.

    • Well the coaches weren’t impartial with the non selection of them. Levi was the only exception as he asked to be excused as reported by another member. And something must have happened after the CR game where Boucad was used for a few minutes to account for his non involvement for the remainder of the campaign.

    • Jamal Boucaud was used sparingly from the start and I’m talking about when Levi WAS selected but still not used. In other words, football selection is always subjective.

    • But a conclusion cannot be drawn that the coach does not like you because of banter in a game. If it was said on another forum then it would have been different.

    • And i totally agree with your point that selection is subjective. 5 different coaches will pick 5 different national teams. All im saying is that this was a game where things werent going well etc. These things happen in games and we need to move on

    • Jamal if Stern went to the players after the final whistle and said: fellahs no hard feelings… that was just banter…
      Do you think they would still be upset now?

    • Right again. And I do hope he does something like that soon. But players need to be bigger than that and also more mentally tough.

  36. So what? This is really news? Players will go to any team who is most likely to pay them at the end of the month. What will happen if/when stars fail to meet their obligation? Thats the way of the tt pro league. Complaining about banter during a game…what next?

  37. Stern telling players they are shit……. Pot calling kettle bottom black……. This has to be a comedic piece ……I can’t

  38. Error in the article! Can’t see NE Stars as Arima based…Grande definitely! IMO Santa Rosa is the true Arima team, lol

  39. Big men complaining about some harsh words from an obviously frustrated coach…these are the times we live in. But off all kix our touch generally very poor.

  40. More and more of these stories are going to emerge in the coming weeks as the fallout starts from our disastrous World Cup campaign.