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‘A fine young man’, ‘Our brother’, ‘A special player’: Tributes pour in for Shahdon

“He was a talented and dedicated player, our captain, a father, and it was a honour to watch his growth and achievements over the last two decades on a personal and professional level…”

The following are words of love and comfort in memory of Trinidad and Tobago international forward, W Connection FC captain and former Naparima College student, Shahdon Winchester.

Winchester died this morning in a vehicular accident in Gasparillo that also claimed the lives of his friends Djenne Hills-Dyer, Michael Bradshaw and Keaton Nicholas, who were in the car with him. All four were heading home after a night out partying in Couva. A fifth passenger, another W Connection footballer Mickaeel Jem Gordon, was dropped home minutes before the accident and is the sole survivor from the crew.

Winchester leaves behind his three year old daughter, Ada, and fiancée, Tennelle. He was 27 years old.

Photo: W Connection players (from left) Neil Benjamin Jr, Shahdon Winchester, Hashim Arcia and Triston Hodge celebrate during their 4-0 Pro Bowl quarterfinal win over North East Stars during at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva the 2015 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Renée John-Williams (W Connection CEO):

There are no words that could accurately describe the way anyone of us at W Connection feel at this moment. We are devastated and heartbroken by Shahdon’s untimely passing. Shahdon grew up in W Connection from a young boy, starting from the inception of the youth program in 2000. He was a true son, a brother and will forever be a ‘Savonetta Boy’ and lifetime member.

He was a talented and dedicated player, our captain, a father, and it was a honour to watch his growth and achievements over the last two decades—on a personal and professional level.

We grieve along with his family and ask that they be kept in prayer during this time and beyond. His death has left a void in our hearts and we pray that comfort can be found in the many happy memories he helped to create.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Shahdon Winchester (right) tries to keep the ball from Mexico winger Javier Aquino during World Cup qualifying action in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 6 October 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Yuri Cortez)

William Wallace (TTFA president):

I am still in a deep state of shock and sadness. I managed Shahdon during my time with the National Senior Team and what I experienced was a young man that was humble, well-mannered, soft spoken and an individual with big dreams and ambitions.

It is times like this that put our faith to the test. We cannot begin to imagine what his mother and other family members are going through right now. All we can do is keep them in our prayers and send all our love and support in this most difficult time. To his mother, your son was a fine young man and we are grateful for the memories and positive influences he would have had on others.

I know that it is difficult to understand tragedies like this, but we can call on our faith to help us deal with them. We will continue to pray for his soul and for you to receive the strength needed during this time.

Condolences to the families of the other deceased occupants of the vehicle. We at the TTFA also extend our deepest sympathy to the management and players of W Connection Football Club. I reached out to the club’s CEO Renee John-Williams immediately to express my sympathy and to send our love and support to all those affected within the club. I know this will be an extremely difficult time for them.

Photo: W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester (right) evades a tackle from Santos Laguna defender Jesus Molina during 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

FIFA:

We are deeply saddened by the news of Trinidad & Tobago Football Association forward Shahdon Winchester’s passing. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Tom Saintfiet (former Trinidad and Tobago head coach):

Sad news today, my former Trinidad and Tobago National Team player Shahdon Winchester died this morning in a car accident. My condolences to his family and friends, to the TTFA and all football-loving people in Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet (left) cheers on hattrick hero Shahdon Winchester during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Haiti at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 8 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Khaleem Hyland (Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team captain):

This is just a terrible way to lose a life and it’s even harder for us because Shahdon was one of us. He was our brother and this could be anyone of us. I send all my prayers to his mother and the family members of the others who lost their lives.

Life is so unpredictable and we have to cherish every moment and every one around us today and tomorrow. May Shahdon’s soul rest in peace always.

Sheldon Bateau (Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team player):

Shahdon was a good friend and we have played together since national youth level. Any advice he needed on life, he knew he could reach out to me and we would always talk whenever something was bothering him.

I always saw him as a player who could easily perform outside of Trinidad and only last weekend I let him know about an opportunity in Jordan and he was grateful for the link. I remember when Kenwyne [Jones] retired, I sent him a message and told him that the ‘number 9’ spot is wide open and now is the chance to step up and claim it. He had all the talent; he only needed the motivation and consistency.

Photo: Then Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 players (from left) Cordell Cato, Jerrel Britto and Shahdon Winchester pose during a training camp in Colombia.

The mother of his girlfriend, Tennelle, was my primary school teacher, so my heart really goes out to her and her family. It is sad that he had to leave us this way and I hope his family and fiancée can find the strength to move on—my heart really aches for them and his daughter, Ada.

He will definitely be missed.

Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League CEO):

The TT Pro League is saddened to hear of the sudden and untimely passing of Shahdon Winchester of W Connection Football Club. Shahdon was one of the bright lights of the TT Pro League from youth level for W Connection Football Club, where he played up to the time of his passing.

It was just last week Tuesday that he was at the First Citizens Player Development Seminar which culminated from the First Citizens Cup.

As a parent, I was really shaken and can only imagine what it feels like to lose a child and the pain that his mother may be feeling at this time. I offer my prayer to his family in the hope that God grants them peace in this time of their bereavement.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Shahdon Winchester (right) tries to escape from Haiti defender Jean Marc Alexandre during the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

On behalf of the Chairman, Board of Directors, management and staff of the TT Pro League, we extend condolences to the family of Shahdon as well to his W Connection family.

Echoing the words of Michael Jackson, he has truly ‘gone too soon’.

Earl Jean (W Connection FC coach):

He was our captain this year—after he came back [from representing SJK Seinäjoki in the Finland top flight]—and was a part of the club since he joined our academy. His father brought him as a child before he died (also from a vehicular accident) and he was with us ever since. I always say I retired early to give players like him and [former Connection striker] Matthew Bartholomew room to shine.

He was a loved boy at Connection and ‘Presie’ (David John-Williams) had a special bond with him, because he took over the role of his father figure when his dad died.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to him and Benjie about managing their weight. We had been in talks with agents in Europe and were trying to get him an opportunity in Germany next month. So they had been doing extra work.

Photo: W Connection striker Shahdon Winchester (centre) powers past Central FC defenders Kevon Villaroel (left) and Jamal Jack to equalise during the 2015 First Citizens Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired88)

His last game for us was last Friday against Morvant Caledonia United. We drew 1-1. He had some knee problems and hadn’t played for the last two weeks but we had some injuries in the squad, so we had to use up. We played him behind the striker because we felt he [lacked the match fitness] to play on top but during the game [combative midfielder] Briel Thomas got injured too.

I told him: ‘Shahdon, I feel I will have to drop you back in midfield’. And he said: ‘Coach, anywhere you have to play me…’ And he had a beautiful game there.

Yesterday we trained and I told coach [Stuart Charles-Fevrier] that it was the best training session I saw from [Winchester] this year. He was full of energy and raring to go. I was not going to start him [against Point Fortin Civic tomorrow] but the way he trained I said we have to start him.

Now, I’m not sure what we are going to do about that game at all. We will meet with players this afternoon and see, because everybody is in a mess.

Shahdon is a special kid and a special player; he is so disciplined and has such love in him. He was an inspiration to our club. It is really sad and disappointing.

Today, you’re here and tomorrow you’re gone.

Photo: W Connection attacker Shahdon Winchester (centre) tries to turn towards goal during the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield final against Morvant Caledonia United on 24 April 2016.
Caledonia won 4-1 on kicks from the penalty mark.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: The TT Pro League has agreed to postpone W Connection’s league fixture against Point Fortin Civic, which was scheduled for 20 December 2019, so as to give the club more time to process the untimely passing of club captain Shahdon Winchester.

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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