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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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  1. Ah man say TT biggest shithound yes… like he never hear bout Densil Theobald… alyuh wicked yes

  2. I think the knee injury he got vs England, chasing a ball and David James bounced into him. When he returned from injury he was very much muscular and seemed very much immobile. That goal vs Guatemala was stunning and vs Mexico in the Gold Cup was voted best Gold Cup match ever. Why didn’t he return to play in the Pro League to uplift the younger players? Thank u Kenwyn, u played in 2 Fifa World Cups, did the nation proud.

  3. Kenwyne, how many players in the world could have survived 8 years in the EPL? You played for multiple coaches in one of the riches leagues in the world. The EPL attracted the best players in the world and you were right there with them. Some English coaches made sure to put a man to mark you real tight.
    I have seen CONCACAF elite put one man to mark you while another keep a close eye on you. You are one of very few Trinbagonians who commanded a man to man assignment on various levels.
    Thanks for the memories brother. You made me proud.

  4. Hope he finds a way to stay involved in the game. It’s all hands on deck for football in T&T!!

  5. Not sooner or later…you made your decision bro…best wishes for the future…

  6. Thanks for the memories. Good luck with your future endeavors

  7. Thanks Kenwyne you did us proud, you have done what few of us have been able to do play in one of the best leagues in the world and rub shoulders with elite players,it was not always easy life is never easy and so it ah go,all the best in your future endeavors.

  8. thanks Big man…and best wishes.

  9. Thanks for your service over the years!!! From your days at St Anthony’s to present you’ve been a leader on and off the pitch and your presence will be missed…May God Bless you with continued Great Health Happiness and Success as you take the next step in whatever direction you choose to take you have my respect and support!!!

  10. You contributed to your country with pride.. Thank you for your hard work sir.

  11. He had alot of potential to play for an elite club , unfortunately it never materialized. At one time liverpool and spurs were showing interest.

  12. Kenwyne thank you for your contribution to T&T football, you have served well. Best wishes in your future endevours.

  13. Well done Mr. Bound not to score and now I will be able to make the “Blooper” video of you in action and I will surely miss pounding you eh. Them really good yes.

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

    Somewhat misleading, Saints were not in the PL when he played for them.

    • They were Nigel S. Scott. I was there when he debuted in a Cup match. Then he had an absolute stinker in his first start and was promptly sent on loan for a few months.

    • You probably have it correct, wasn’t sure if he was with them when they got relegated to the Championship following the 2004 season.

    • I think the game where he stunk was at Birmingham on a cold weekday night. It was a good example of how quick one’s fortune changes. Straight into the wilderness after that.
      I actually interviewed him and watched him at Sheffield and Stoke during those early days. Although he stopped all interviews years later when he took offence at an interview with Terry Fenwick on Wired868 in which he referenced an issue they had with Kenwyne as a teenager out on trial.
      But hopefully that was never reflected with our coverage. I think we gave him a fair shake.

    • I stand corrected then, good fact. Whether he got on the pitch or not he was still with them. KJ, not unlike many players today, is probably loathe to accept genuine criticism, probably b/c he’s so used to being painted in an unfair light. For me going on strike at Soton was a low, as was letting himself be used as a PP pawn in the pay imbroglio with the Tim Kee-lead TTFA, following the Caribbean Cup loss to Jamaica in 2014.

    • nigel s scott kenwyne made his debut in the bpl for southampton against liverpool[my team] in 2005

    • Kenwyne’s EPL debut was a cobo sweat for Southampton vs Liverpool on Jan 22nd 2005. A week later he played in an FA Cup match vs Portsmouth. He then made his first EPL start for Southampton on February 2nd, 2005 vs Birmingham. He got taken off at half-time. Southampton got relegated to the Championship at the end of that season.

    • Nigel that’s the game I attended. Against Birmingham. They took him off at the half. I remember he did really well against Portsmouth.

  15. Wow thank God wat took him so long.

  16. Thanks for the years of service kj definitely one of the better players in the last decade,good luck

  17. Praise the Lord thank you father

  18. Thank you Kenwyne Jones. Best wishes to you for success in every thing you do.

  19. Good luck with future endeavors bro.

  20. It is always sad to say farewell to the game you love, but in reflection, it is best when you have the support of your family and friends through your many tribulations. I am sure that you have much more to give back to the game, maybe not as a player, but please consider all the youths that may have looked up to you for guidance. May God continue to richly bless you and your family.

  21. Thanks for your years of putting T&T on the map . We are proud of you.

  22. ‘One more disciple lef’ the yard.’ Thanks bro’.

  23. Nothing but love for KJ. Enjoy the fruits of your labor in retirement…

  24. He served Trinidad football well, God’s speed ahead.

  25. All the the best in your future endeavours jonesy…..its always tough to please everyone in our professional sporting life …its been a good run…have done yourself proud and family,country friends and fans. You have gone some tough periods but we all do thats our life …again good luck on the nxt jouney lots of people never got that opportunity to represent their country and to make that difference …you did take the nxt step with pride….Gods blessings..wcfc also compliments your hard work effort and sacrifice …younmadeyourdreamscometrue…respect!!!

  26. KJ.. thank you my brother for being a wonderful teammate and servant to our country.. god bless you..

  27. He had about 23 goals in 90 Intl caps. !!!!!

  28. He did pretty good for him self at the level he played at for that many years, i went to England and the level is pretty decent, harder than a looks on tv

  29. Very enigmatic player. His club career was one of unfulfilled potential, while his international career was one of fits and starts. The 4-4 draw with Mexico remains my personal highlight.

  30. Wanted him to come Liverpool so bad back in his prime

  31. Many thanks for all your years of service to your country and all the best in your future endeavours!

  32. Thanks for the years of service to T&T football Mr. Jones.

  33. Good luck and all the best on hanging up boots Kenwyn Jones.

  34. I was proud of these photos and knew the opportunity would come for their use.. the lesson for was to understand who were the ones that paved the way for the other to follow and be a part of the league of extraordinary gentlemen and until and unless a local, Regional player wins the coveted title I would say we have failed.. and thus we must have a vision of where we are heading and how we are getting there.. who’ll be the next local that we expect to break through at their level and stay on long enough

  35. Thanks for the memories bro wishing u all the best in your future endeavours god bless

  36. He was a decent player who just couldn’t raise his game to the next level. I’ll like to wish him the best in his next endeavors.

  37. Well done KJ. We salute you. The last of the EPL Trinis. Who’s next?

  38. Blessingsssss !!!! Tnt biggest shithound capt. Retires from intl. Football…..

  39. Thanks for your contributions KJ …was appreciated. Goodluck in the next stage of your career …bless!!