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Pro League All-Stars: Eve votes for Glen, Cleon, Shaqkeem, Bateau, ‘Butters’, ‘Boyo’…

For the past 18 months, Trinidad and Tobago Pro League stakeholders have discussed the fate of the top flight competition and what might lie in store. Wired868 encourages local football fans to look back.

In Wired868’s new Pro League All-Stars series, we ask a few of the local top flight’s most successful coaches to tell us the best eleven players that they worked with; and the three most dangerous players they ever faced.

Photo: Just now nah… I’m thinking!
Fourth official Neal Brizan (far left) listens to complaints from North East Stars head coach Angus Eve (third from left) during a Pro League fixture at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 21 May 2014.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/Wired868)

We start with Tiger Tanks Club Sando head coach Angus Eve, who cut his teeth as assistant to Terry Fenwick (San Juan Jabloteh) and the late Michael McComie (Ma Pau SC) before taking over at North East Stars in 2012. From Stars, he spent one season as St Ann’s Rangers head coach before moving to Sando.

Wired868: What was your favourite season as a Pro League coach?

Eve: My second season with North East was the one I enjoyed the most. We won the FA Cup and we came third in the league. We played really well that season and we had a nice blend of experience and youth.

The FA Cup is one of the most prestigious tournaments in any part of the world and to win that in my second year was really special. I remember [midfielder] Jayson Joseph got a red card in the first 15 minutes of the game, and to hold on and come out on top 1-0 at the end was really rewarding to me.

Cornell Glen was my standout and captain that season. Everybody had written him off because of injuries and stuff. But I remember when I visited Aston Villa that Paul McGrath never used to train [because of chronic injuries] and same for Ledley King at Tottenham; yet they would be on their starting teams every weekend.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes striker Cornell Glen dribbles past an opposing goalkeeper during MLS action.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

So I made a similar training regime for Cornell where he would ride the bike in the gym or do low impact work and just join the squad the day before the game to train in formation and work on finishing. And he would be good to go on match day.

After that he was selected again for the National Team and made the [2013 Concacaf] Gold Cup squad.

Without further ado, here is Eve’s All-Star selection:

Goalkeeper: Cleon John (North East Stars and St Ann’s Rangers)

I saw Cleon playing in Carenage minor league football and brought him to Jabloteh. He couldn’t kick the ball for shit; but he was an excellent shot stopper and a true professional and leader. I think he should have played more for the national team.

Photo: North East Stars captain and goalkeeper Cleon John saves a penalty against San Juan Jabloteh during the 2014 First Citizens Cup semifinals at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Stars won on penalties.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Right back: Cyd Gray (North East Stars)

I like defenders who could overlap, quick wing backs. He was a really, really good one on one defender. I brought him from Joe Public to Jabloteh under Terry.

Defender: Sheldon Bateau (San Juan Jabloteh and North East Stars)

He and Kevin Molino were part of my youth team at Jabloteh and we won everything. When I went over to North East, he joined me there before he got a contract [in Belgium]. He was always a good leader at the back and a professional player.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau arrives at San José for 2018 World Cup qualifying action on 13 June 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Defender: Charles Pollard (North East Stars)

He was a Guyanese international and an unbelievable reader of the game. He was good on the ball, a real leader and excellent at organising a defence. When he needed to be nasty, he could be nasty—apart from being a good footballer.

Left Back: Glenton Wolfe (North East Stars)

Commitment! He always gave you 100 percent and was a good leader and a good professional. He was strong in a tackle, a good one on one defender and had a wicked left foot. He was great for free kicks, was good on the overlap and could cross the ball. He was a member of the 2006 World Cup team but got dropped midway through the campaign. He was a consistent performer and reliable defender.

Photo: Central FC attacker Jason Marcano (right) takes on North East Stars substitute Jeromie ‘Butters’ Williams during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Midfielder: Jeromie ‘Butters’ Williams (North East Stars)

He looked funny but he was an excellent midfielder. He had a good work rate, good shot from midfield. He could play box to box and could defend when needed.

Midfielder: Curtis Gonzales (Ma Pau SC)

Curtis started as a defensive midfielder at youth level. He could pass and play. I would use him there [as a defensive midfielder] all now. He can also play right back and centre back comfortably. He has a really good range of passing, good in the tackle and can play football. A really solid character.

Photo: Club Sando attacker Akim Armstrong (centre) challenges Central FC goalkeeper Stephon Seepersad during Pro League action on 29 July 2017 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Right side midfielder: Akim Armstrong (Club Sando)

I got Akim late in his career. I always admired the intelligence and composure of the player. He can set up goals for others and had a good work rate. He had an eye for goal and he was my top scorer for two years and subsequently got a contract in Finland.

Left side midfielder: Shaqkeem Joseph (Club Sando)

This youngster came to me while we were playing the Ascension League last year. He had blistering pace but didn’t know how to use it [and] I started working with him on finishing and getting him to pass the ball into the net. With the pace, trickery and work rate he has, I believe he is a future international player. The sky is the limit once he continues where he is.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Shaqkeem Joseph (right) during the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship.

He used to play left back for [coach Russell] Latapy on the National Under-20 Team and I converted him into an inverted winger who comes in off the left. It will be a travesty if Shaqkeem isn’t called up to the National Team. Believe me, the international arena is going mad over him. I don’t normally put my head out like this but it would be an unbelievable waste if this kid isn’t on the National Team soon. He scored the most goals in the Pro League last season and others who didn’t do as well were selected. So he has to be called up, even if just on that fact.

Forward: Akeem Roach (Club Sando)

As a kid, he went to my old school, Mucurapo, and did okay. After that, he was at W Connection, Caledonia and Defence force and I always thought with his size and pace, people were playing him in the wrong role. I brought him in from wing to centre forward at Sando. He has great physical attributes. He was good in the air, good in holding up the play, he can get in behind and he was a good finisher.

Photo: Club Sando forward Akeem Roach (right) is watched closely by W Connection defender Jelani Peters during Pro League action on 10 January 2017 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Forward: Cornell Glenn (North East Stars)

Cornell brought that maturity and seniority and experience of playing in the World Cup and MLS into the squad. His hold up play was good, he can run in behind, he can score from headers, left foot, right foot. He can assist. He had leadership qualities. He was invaluable.

And the three opposing players who caused Eve the most grief:

Midfielder: Marvin Oliver (Caledonia AIA, San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC):

Marvin could change a game on his own and inspire his whole team, even if they weren’t playing well. He was like a second coach on the field the way he would be on top of his teammates and give instructions. He would drag his players through the game if he had to!

He could hurt you with a pass, a goal, his strength in the air. He could kill you off at any moment.

Photo: North East Stars utility player Kennedy Hinkson (left) pressures Central FC star Marvin Oliver during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Devorn Jorsling (Striker/Caledonia AIA, Defence Force):

I would always be happy when I went out and didn’t see Devorn Jorsling of Defence Force. (Laughs) He is the catalyst for his team in the same way as Marvin [Oliver] in the way that he inspired his team. He was like a drill master who would get into them when he had to or pay them a compliment when he had to.

He was excellent at holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into the game. And he could score from free kick, open play or even a corner. He is one of the most troublesome players I ever faced.

Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling celebrates a strike against Morvant Caledonia United in his team’s 3-0 First Citizens Cup semifinal win on 27 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Attacker: Marcus Joseph (Point Fortin Civic, Central FC, W Connection):

He was very similar to Jorsling but in terms of his play and not in terms of leadership qualities. He doesn’t really drive his team in the way the others do; he does it with his individual play. Your team could be dominating a game and he would score a goal from 40 yards out of nothing and change the whole complexion of the person. He is the third person I was most in awe of.

Photo: W Connection forward Marcus Joseph (right) goes for goal during Pro League action against Central FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 August 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Best individual performance from one of your players:

It would have to be Shaqkeem Joseph.

We played Cunupia FC in our first game at the Hasely Crawford Stadium [on 25 November 2019] and he scored a hattrick that was unbelievable. I sent a tape of that away and that is why agents are going crazy over him. (Click HERE to see a snippet on Facebook). The way he created the opportunities for himself and finished them had everybody in awe. He signalled his arrival that night and people started taking stock of him thereafter.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE for the second instalment of our coaches’ Pro League All-Star selections as Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick selects the best players he ever worked with in Trinidad.

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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