Which aspiring young Trini footballer wouldn't want to be in Kenwyne Jones' boots right now?
For those of us preoccupied with the material benefits associated with such a status as Jones has achieved in the richest league of the world's most popular sport, there may be more than a hint of jealousy that this big black boy, at such a young age, already has it made: money, money, money and therefore bling, bling, bling for so.
Remember, he was being pursued by Tottenham Hotspur to the tune of 15 million pounds sterling (I can't give the TT$ equivalent as between the time of writing this and the time it appears in print, it's quite likely that the British currency would have sunk even further).
So it's safe to assume that, especially with an agent seeking to maximise a player's worth to maximise his cut of the contract fee, Jones' compensation package from the English Premier League (EPL) club would be considerably enhanced from the one signed less than two years ago when he transferred from Southampton to Sunderland for what now looks a bargain-basement price of six million pounds.
Many a young or not-so-young man or woman could get tizzik over those numbers, especially if cars, jewellery and a wide assortment of fair-weather companions are prioritised at this stage of life as being especially desirable. But it's worth noting that Jones is no overnight sensation and that his success and wealth now are the result of long hours of very hard work, persistence and the relentless pursuit of a dream.
In fact, when you really think about it, a genuine overnight sensation is only so called because of success attained in the relatively short time since coming into the media spotlight. What that "overnight" characterisation overlooks is the practice, diligence and sacrifices- not just by the individual-that formed the foundation of a level of excellence that is the almost natural consequence of all that effort in those unheralded formative years.
As David John-Williams, owner of the W Connection Pro League club from which Jones made his first really big move to Southampton in 2004, noted yesterday, the player now regarded as one of the best forwards in the EPL was keen to break out of his role as a central defender, which was where he played for Trinidad and Tobago at the 2001 Under-17 World Championships and also at "Connection".
Only occasionally was he given a run up front with the Savonetta-based squad, but pressed his case for a striker's role at Southampton, something which must have come as a surprise to his new employers, seeing as how they signed him as a central defender.
But as his former boss explained, the young man always had his sights set on greater things and was prepared to put in the hard work to achieve those objectives.
When the Southampton transfer was finalised, John-Williams knew that it could be the start of something really big, even if hardly anyone then was prepared to take him on.
"When I said then that Kenwyne could become as big a name as Dwight Yorke, or maybe even bigger, a lot of people dismissed it as just old talk and an attempt to highlight my club," he revealed.
Well, it's been a while now that we've come to appreciate Jones' prowess in the opposition's penalty area instead of his own. Indeed, it can be argued that his value as a more complete player than just a scorer of goals probably comes from that defensive background in that it has provided him with the fundamentals of ball-winning and holding off opponents under pressure, to say nothing of imposing physical attributes that contrast sharply with outstanding skill and close control.
Yet as much as it will seem that the good times are well and truly rolling right now, Jones need only look back to June 1 last year to appreciate that all it takes is one awkward tackle to turn things completely around. That was when, having sustained a wrist injury nearing the end of the 2007/08 English season, he was sidelined for four months after damaging knee ligaments in a collision with goalkeeper David James at the start of England's 3-0 whipping of the national side in the friendly international at the Hasely Crawford Stadium that celebrated the centenary of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.
Remember as well that he had to virtually go on strike to force his transfer from Southampton 18 months ago.
So he may be soft-spoken and generally pleasant to us in the media, but clearly he is prepared to do what he has to do--legally, of course--in pursuit of his dream, even if it means being accused of biting the hand that fed him at one time.
It's a tough, uncompromising world out there and whatever Kenwyne Jones has achieved in football, rest assured he has had to work damn hard for it.
Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. Absolutely nothing.