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Ex-Soca Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones retires after parting ways with Atlanta Utd

Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team captain Kenwyne Jones announced his retirement from football today, after a one-year stint with United States Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit, Atlanta United FC. The MLS website stated Atlanta did not renew Jones’ deal although the player explained that he retired first.

At just 33, Jones played professionally in four different countries and, most memorably, represented three England Premier League clubs: Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke City.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Kenwyne Jones jumps for joy during his spell with Stoke City.
(Courtesy Ross Kinnaird/ Getty Images)

Jones also featured at two international FIFA tournaments, playing at the 2001 Under-17 World Cup—hosted by Trinidad and Tobago—and the Germany 2006 World Cup in which the Soca Warriors made Trinidad and Tobago the smallest country ever to play at that level.

“Football has been great to me, I thank everyone who has helped me on the way,” said Jones, via Twitter. “I appreciate you, but this is my last year in the sport.”

Jones, a former St Anthony’s College student, gave a roll call of his former overseas employers and thanked everyone who had given him a chance and supported him when he needed it.

“For the times I’ve had at the clubs, you’ve embraced me and I love you for it,” said Jones. “This is my last year in the sport and I’ll be forever grateful. But most of all, I wanna [thank] the Almighty God for life, health and strength and also the gift that he gave me to play this game.

“My family thank you for sticking it out with me.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Jones’ international career spanned 17 years, starting with his bow, at the age of 16, as a reluctant defender under then National Under-17 coach Chief Adegboye Onigbinde. The nephew of former Strike Squad forward Philbert “Pamo” Jones, he always had his heart set on playing at the other end of the field and the debate about his best role for Trinidad and Tobago has raged ever since.

The tall, strapping, versatile player got his first taste of senior international football as a wing-back for Hannibal Najjar while Bertille St Clair once tried him as a holding midfielder. Leo Beenhakker eventually gave Jones his first start up front although he often utilised him on the flank with Trinidad and Tobago record scorer Stern John considered indispensable as a striker at the time.

When Marvin Andrews was ruled out through injury, Beenhakker even considered returning Jones to central defence—ahead of Brent Sancho—for Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup opener against Sweden. But the former Real Madrid coach decided it was too risky to entrust the task of closing down Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic a make-shift defender.

Jones became a regular on top for Sunderland following the World Cup after, ironically, replacing John at the Premier League club. And his early form earned rave reviews from then Chelsea and England captain John Terry, who called him unbeatable in the air.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward and captain Kenwyne Jones (left) beats Guatemala defender Christian Jimenez to the ball during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Jones played exclusively as a forward for Trinidad and Tobago after that although the results were mixed until TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee hired Stephen Hart as head coach.

Jones’ scoring return in attacking roles read: two goals from 14 appearances under Beenhakker, one goal in two appearances under Wim Rijsbergen, one goal in six appearances for Francisco Maturana, zero goals in seven appearances for Russell Latapy, three goals from four appearances under Otto Pfister and zero goals from three appearances under the joint stewardship of Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz.

It was a combined seven goals from 36 outings.

Under Hart, who gave Jones the captain’s armband and made him the focal point of a strategy that focused on counter-attacks and set pieces, he scored 11 times from his first 26 games as Trinidad and Tobago soared up the FIFA rankings and managed successive quarterfinal finishes at the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (centre in white top) and players (from right) Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Kenwyne Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Sheldon Bateau at a national training session.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images)

However, critics might remember Jones’ run of one goal—against St Vincent and the Grenadines—from his last eight games under Hart, which coincided with a team slump that ultimately led to the coach’s dismissal. But there were mitigating circumstances.

In January 2016, Jones quit then England Championship club, Cardiff City, to try his hand with Al Jazeera in the United Arab Emirates. That July, he returned to Trinidad to represent Pro League club, Central FC.

His lone goal in 2016 came while employed by Al Jazeera but he failed to score from six international games while at the “Couva Sharks” and a noticeable decline in his fitness, coupled with injuries, made him a scapegoat for irate Warriors fans.

Jones moved to new MLS franchise, Atlanta United, at the start of 2017 but it was the club’s technical director Carlos Bocanegra who hired the Trinidadian and not their Argentine coach Gerardo Martino, whose tenure began later.

Photo: Atlanta United FC forward Kenwyne Jones.
(Copyright Jason Getz/USA Today)

Jones was never first choice for Martino and scored twice in 17 appearances for the club. During that period, he made six appearances under new national coach Dennis Lawrence and failed to get on the score-sheet for any.

Omitted by Lawrence once the Warriors were eliminated from the Russia World Cup campaign, Jones decided to call it a day when he was waived by Martino.

His final international record read 23 goals from 90 appearances. He was Trinidad and Tobago Footballer of the Year in 2007, 2010 and 2013, Sunderland Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year in 2007/08 and Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) MVP in 2002.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones (right) celebrates with teammate Sheldon Bateau during international duty at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Kenwyne Jones media statement:

“My decision to retire from playing has not been an easy one for me but having thought about it at length, and having discussed it with those closest to me, I believe that now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career I’ve had and I’ve loved every moment of it, being part of history and playing before fans of my country and the different teams I represented.

“It has been a huge distinction to captain my national team both at the senior and youth level and these were some of the best years of my life. I’ve been privileged to play the game with and be involved in football with people from all different races, religions and backgrounds working together for one shared goal.

“The core values that I have learnt during this chapter are some of the most important you can learn in life. I take this opportunity to wish everyone I have worked with and played alongside as well against the best in the game and in their careers. Love and Respect to you all.”

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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220 comments

  1. Trinis does take their own picong to special levels yes

  2. I think KJ is ah leader off the pitch and making use of that kinda experience and influence can be beneficial to the team ….that seems to be what Lawrence is trying to say …nothing bootleg bout what he saying Earl Mango Pierre

  3. So it is only now that Alyuh realized that the bootleg Coach Dennis cannot speak eh the same as Mr. Bound not to score eh just listen to their other previous interviews nah man. Them really good yes. Steeuupps

  4. I think all he trying to say is dat he would like to make use of Kenwyne’s experience. But other dan that, the quote is kinda incomprehensible.

  5. Nigel Myers: The T&T coach told Guardian Media Sports yesterday, “It’s not just about being on the football pitch. People play different roles and sometimes it’s off the football pitch. Kenwyne has a unanimous amount of experience and it’s something he can pass on to this generation so as long as Kenwyne is around and willing, he will always have a part to play with me because I think we cannot afford to let these type of people walk out of our football.”
    http://www.guardian.co.tt/sports/2017-11-21/lawrence-jones-phenomenal-servant

  6. WATCH: In his first interview since announcing his retirement, Kenwyne Jones talks about the build-up to his retirement, the difficulty of the decision, his future plans, and the critics.
    https://www.facebook.com/CNC3Television/videos/10155965411407996/

  7. Thank you Kenywe.. for all you did to represent Trinidad and by extension the Soca Warriors.,

  8. Lasana im available to play for that game, but I want to play against Kenwyne Jones and Darin Lewis speng on my team

  9. Didn’t you meant to say that he don’t have any time to be petty ?

  10. He say DJW and he doh see eye to eye and he eh wah no fren (not in so many words eh… buh dat was the jist)

  11. Anyways… KJ on Slam 100.5 talkin d tings… he say he have time to be “petty”

  12. Thanks for your dedication to the sport and to TnT. Know you got a hard time from us but we appreciate every ounce of blood you shed for this country. Go with God.

  13. Lasana, I echo your sentiments about my good friend Bleeder. That day against England he did a fantastic job keeping Beckham quiet. A very nice humble human being. Proud to call him a friend.

  14. I can say first hand knowing Hardest personally he had what it took to be world class where we came from we looked up to him everything we did was to emulate him I played with and against Denzil also and he was good he was very professional and worked very hard at his craft

  15. ey allyuh really good yes….let the man Retire in Peace(R.I.P.)

  16. Hardest was the closest player we had to the Little Magician.. The man had vision but was too undisciplined. He and men like Arnold Dwarika.

  17. Well done. Great player. Fantastic service to the national team.

  18. He was a good striker. If he worked harder he could have been world class with his size and strength.

  19. My midfielder was Kerwin ‘hardest’ jemott…much better that densil

  20. I like midfielders who don’t give away the ball and love to pass. He was that.

  21. I won’t join the comparison thing. But I thought Densill was a superb pro, a great guy and a talented midfielder.
    The team’s plummet down fifa rankings affected his chances of getting good foreign deal which would have better harnessed his ability I think.
    I think Densill was an unsong hero in the 2006 World Cup too for the great job he did against Beckham personally.

    • Honestly I felt as a midfielder he wasn’t adventurous and was a bit negative in his playmaking. He might have been well suited for containment and if the team was up 3-0…. but not, as we were, oftentimes, searching for a goal or two. He frustrated me with his incessant back passing and lack of urgency. So to call him a shithound is a bit harsh… but shit dat… it sounds better! 😂😂

    • Densill is a pure passer but was asked to play more defensive in wc and with national team but I can tell you he was a great attacking midfielder who could shoot and pass the hell out of a ball

    • Man was out of his league. I do understand he was a good professional but he was lucky in some instances ….heavily overated

    • Malik nobody was luckier than k Jones here was a defender with limited attacking skill transformed into a striker because all he can do is head the ball can’t dribble run past anyone shoot set up plays outside of England where could he be effective

    • Lasana, Latapy took Theobald to Falkirk with in in 2006 before the World Cup, I must say Densil got better with that move but later on in 2006 when he had the chance to settle in Falkirk he returned to Trinidad. When asked why he returned home he said it was really hard to find a spot in the final 11. Theobald is the luckiest Soca Warrior of them all.

      • Lasana Liburd

        Theobald felt he was unfairly overlooked during his time at Falkirk and wanted to try his hand somewhere else after the World Cup. The club had made a big deal of its player being at the World Cup and was anxious to use him at that point.
        Problem is when he left Scotland, the blacklist happened and T&T plummeted down the world rankings too. I’d say Densill was very unlucky.
        Maybe he should have had more patience and stayed at Falkirk. But sometimes we are rash when we are young.

        • I took it that he was afraid to fight in Scotland. Isn’t that what being a professional is all about? He was younger at the time and it indeed was a rash decision.

    • Kj cant even trap or pass properly….he was too slow, and complain to much for tackles from smaller persons

    • i swear dion think Kj suppose to be Ronaldinho

    • Kyon mentioning that shithound and dinho in the same sentence is embarrassing that’s like saying kerosene can replace premium gas

    • KJ from an athletic perspective is a behemoth …everybody foreign knew it. To call men like Hardest and Denzil is to be in denial ….them fellas couldn’t achieve what he did because they weren’t strong enough or disciplined enough ….. this is pro ball not sweat in the Savannah. Densil did ok but his limited athleticism and lean build worked against him in achieving more professionally

    • Definitely an unsung hero. He was disciplined and tactically sound in the World Cup.

    • Malik there is no universal quality though. Different coaches want different things. They all played different positions too. Remember Densill is the one who started all three World Cup games eh.
      And Hardest was one of the few players that Beenhakker allowed to join his camp once his program got started. (Only to be promptly cut for then missing training!)

    • Malik, a case in point is Sergio Busquets who is definitely less mobile and athletic than Densill but has won everything possible in the game.

    • Las but busquets knows his strengths and his weaknesses …he is a def mid …doesnt try to do to much. I’m sure bleeder was this dynamic box to box mid on the “local scene” but at the next level he was mediocre at best. In the world cup he played def and simple. Smart tactic on his part because he was not confident enough to display these coveted passing skills that you guys insist he had….nice guy i get it but a limited baller

    • Malik nothing wrong with playing your role. The fact that he was able to play at that level at all said something. You can blame him for shining in the local league. I’m not sure what you’re asking of him.
      He does his best with whatever job he is given.

    • Las I’m not asking anything of him….. in my humble opinion he just isn’t as good as some people make him out to be …. I’ve seen better players and to me his impact was limited. Nothing wrong with playing his role either he made the world cup team and started nothing and no one could ever take that away from the man ….

  22. Thanks for your contribution. Well done.

  23. Thank you for your service bro. All the best .

  24. Shawn Charles densill was a tremendous professional and a better man also