Trinidad and Tobago’s talented midfielder Kevin Molino has one aim in life and that is to be the ultimate Soca Warrior.
And if he keeps on improving the way he has been since joining USL Pro team Orlando City a season ago, the sky will be the limit for the young talent.
Rated in the top 10 players in the league, Molino currently leads his team in assists and is also second in the USL Professional League this season with 7 assist and, to top that off he has recorded three goals himself thus far.
Kevin was born in Arima and spent most of his early years living on King Street. While there, he attended Arima Boys RC. At 13, he left to go live with his grandmother on the opposite side of the island, to be exact, he left for Carenage.
While living there, he then attended Carenage Government and also met the man who probably changed his life forever and made him fell in love with the game. The late Archibald (Aboo) was instrumental in Molino’s passion for the game at a tender age, and served as his private coach growing up. He taught him the fundamentals of the game and helped him to prepare for what future opportunities were to come his way.
He later graduated and was on his way to Mucurapo Junior Secondary, where he lit up the U-14 youth league with a staggering 29 goals. All his goal-scoring prowess would count for however, was a runners-up position in the end, but Molino was happy anyway.
While attending Mucuropo Junior Secondary- Molino was snapped up by San Juan Jabloteh, both he and Lester Peltier were invited by then assistant coach, Angus Eve to join the team on trials, where they impressed and were quickly accepted into Jabloteh's Academy.
From there Molino developed into a more compressive midfielder and now a senior at Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive, he had an excellent SSFL debut season, enough to have caught the eye of T&T’s under 17 assistant coach Hutson Charles and head coach Anton Corneal.
There have been other players who briefly played abroad professionally like; Juma Clarence, Jamal Gay, Glenroy Samuel and Mekeil Williams, while others chose scholarships to North American Colleges. Molino however, is now one of only three players from both T&T’s youth U-17 and U-20 World Cup teams to have signed long-term contracts with foreign teams, with the others being Robert Primus and Khaleem Hyland.
Before joining Orlando City in February 2011, the San Juan Jabloteh player signed a one year contract with former T&T Pro League Club – Ma Pau SC. The player was snapped up by head coach Michael McComie in January 2010 after spending a 6-month loan spell with the club in 2009 where he did enough to have warranted a full year extension – the cash strapped San Juan Jabloteh conquered.
And who says that dreams don’t come true, Molino made his debut for the Soca Warriors against Guyana on the 4th of November 2010 in a Digicel Cup qualifier which T&T won (2-1), not only this but his idol Russell Latapy was the one who made it all possible. Imagine your childhood hero is now an admirer of yourself.
The then Trinidad and Tobago senior team head coach was impressed with the midfielder and decided to give him a call-up now ever since he has not looked back and has gone on to earn 9 senior caps for the national team and a solitary goal to his name, one which came against a visiting Finland team in January of this year.
Former T&T head coach Otto Pfister was also a huge fan, he was quoted saying that- "The boy's got a million dollars in his legs."
Molino has big plans in store and managed to take the time off to do an exclusive with the Soca Warriors Online (SWO) about his ambitions and what we can expect to see from the player in the near future.
Join us as we get up-close and personal with the young T&T starlet:
Obviously you are one of the better midfielders of the new generation of players coming out of T&T. What drove you to be such a success and who do you say would be one of your main inspiration in the game?
KM: Russell Latapy inspired me, I love his style, I try to emulate him, and he is my idol. I just love to work hard for what I want in life for me and my family, that’s my inspiration to. My aim is to be one of the best midfield players from Trinidad and Tobago; I want to be the ultimate “Soca Warrior”.
You have been to two youth World Cups (2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup & the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cups) with Trinidad and Tobago and you were not a regular at the time. However, you were one of the players who progressed and have not looked back while many just didn't live up to expectation and off course some went aboard on Scholarships. Who were some of the players you felt could have made it up there with you?
KM: First, I would like to say that was one of the greatest times of my life going to the World Cup and also scoring the winner in Kingston over Jamaica. I think Leston Paul for sure, Robert Primus, maybe Micah Lewis, Sheldon Bateau, Daniel Joseph and Stephen Knox if they can get their acts together and get serious about football. On a flip side, our former teammate Aaron Maund was a big disappointed to me and I felt he disrespected T&T.
You scored the game winner against Jamaica at the Under 17 level in Kingston after coming on as a substitute as a result the goal was responsible for T&T qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in South Korea. You also copped many awards including; the 2008 SSFL Most Valuable Player, Toyota Classic winner's medal with Ma Pau SC and were crown the 2011 and, 2012 USL PRO American Division Champions with Orlando City respectively, among other awards. You are now 22, what are your main aim as far as your career goes. To me, Orlando City has been great towards you, but I personally think you are capable of playing in a bigger league. When is your contract going to expire and, are you getting any interest from other teams?
KM: These are memories I will never forget. Going to two World Cups was a great feeling and to win most valuable player in 2008 and scoring 29 goals that year are things that I will never forget in my life. As for my status with Orlando, well, my contract is going to expire next month and I am looking towards a possible move, maybe Europe, I do get interest from MLS though, but I like the level in Europe. I enjoyed playing for Orlando City and I really love the Club, they and the fans have been great to me, however, I feel that it is time for me to move on. I really want to test myself on a higher level. I want to also improve my game on and off the field, I love playing football.
How has the experience at Orlando City been so far? The good and the bad.
KM: It is a great experience for me not just football but in life. The bad is, I miss home and the food. I was also sorry to see my international teammate Devorn Jorsling leave, but that’s life, you win some and you loose some. I also want to say that Michael McComie, Ma Pau SC coach at the time tried to block me from coming to Orlando, and the matter had to be resolved by FIFA, that might be the bad to (chuckle)… why would you want to stop a youth for trying to make a better for himself for a couple of dollars.
What really happened with the Pachuca FC trials? You guys (teammates Jayson Joseph and Micah Lewis) went there on trials and we heard nothing after. How was it and how was the experience while there, can you give us a run down on how things went?
KM: First, it was a great experience, myself, Joseph and Lewis enjoyed it very much. My Club (Orlando) told me that Pachuca wanted to sign me and that is the last I heard about that, nothing really materialized. The facilities was great, the senior players welcome us. We played a reserve game against a local Club called Lyon, we lost 3-0, I was a bit uncomfortable though, the buss ride to Lyon was 2 hours away and the reserve players was not to friendly with us at all.
I personally did not like the coaching from an overall aspect, however, in your humble opinion, where did you feel T&T went wrong at the 2012 Olympic qualifiers in California. And, do you feel T&T would have done better with the inclusion of Khaleem Hyland, Glenroy Samuel, Jake Thomson, Jerrel Britto and Leston Paul?
KM: Is up to the coaches to make the final call. Off course we would have liked to have all of these players but it all comes down to the coach really, he makes the call. All of these guys are great players to have on any team; I would have loved to have Hyland there with us especially, he would have help stabilized our midfield and it would have given me more room to play in a more attacking role as I love playing that central midfield position more than on the wing.
While playing for T&T you've managed to rub shoulders with some of T&T's best players today. Who would you say would be a role model you would like to follow and why?
KM: I played with Kenwyne Jones and he is a good player and playing in a good league to, I can't wait to play against him on Saturday when Orlando play Stoke in an exhibition match here in the U.S. But, Russell Latapy is my favorite player, I really love to see him play, for me, he has to be the best footballer to have played for Trinidad and Tobago. I am grateful for him and the T&T federation for giving me the chance to play for T&T, I love playing for my country.
You came through the San Juan Jabloteh youth system. How was the experience there and as you might know they have pulled out of the T&T Pro League because of financial reason. What are you take on this.
KM: I felt so sad to see San Juan Jabloteh dropped out of the Pro League, they are a very nice club and I will like to see them come back in the Pro League one day. I hope they could acquire some sponsors to come back, they are important to the league and is responsible for having so many good players today. The selections of players coming through San Juan Jabloteh system were also beneficial to the national teams. I want to thank Angus Eve and Terry Fenwick for giving me the opportunity to play for Jabloteh.
The beaver-trick against Suriname to seal T&T’s qualification for the final round of CONCACAF Olympic qualification was special. However, what would you say was your proudest moments in football.
KM: One of my proudest moments indeed, however, I believe we can do it together as a team with some hard work. Playing for T&T always makes me proud and winning the Championship with Orlando was special also.
Who was some of the best players you've play with and against?
KM: Martin Petrov and Bolton Wanderers captain Kevin Davies was on tour with his team in the U.S. for preseason and they were very good. I also played against Newcastle United which we won 1-0, I scored the winner, some of the players at Newcastle that impress me were; Jonas Gutierrez, Sammy Ameobi and Demba Ba. Some of the best players I've played with were; Khaleem Hyland, Joevin Jones, Hughtun Hector and Kenwyne Jones.
Is Kevon Cooper is your half-brother; you both carry different last names?
KM: Kevon is my blood brother, I look just like him to, but I didn’t live by Kevon, I move when I was 2 years old into a new family and they welcomed me with a good heart, they adopted me and took good care of me. I love my brother and the things that happened in my life were for a reason. He has my dad's last name and I use my mother's.
Who is your favorite international player of all times and why?
KM: Russell Latapy, I tried to play some of his moves at times but I need more practice, he has great vision and techniques. I also like Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, they can really move the ball around, and overall they are well balance players who make the ball do the work for them, they make it look so simple.
Who is your favorite team of all times and why?
KM: Barcelona!!... I like to see beautiful football. They are also the fittest team, they can run from start to finish, it’s not over until the whistle blows, they can wear down their opponent and just destroy you when your legs are weary.
How is the level of football there in the USL compared to the League in Trinidad and Tobago?
KM: The level in the USL I believe is much higher than the one in T&T, they focus on winning and fitness, and you also get the opportunity to travel to different States whereas in T&T you are basically in one place. The fans are also more passionate. I wish T&T fans could really come out and support the T&T league that would surely improve the league.
We have two teams in the Concacaf Champions Cup (W Connection & Caledonia AIA). In your opinion, how do you feel they will do and will you be attending any games?
KM: First things, Caledonia is a great team with a great coach, same as W Connection, I believe they can do good in Champions Cup but it all comes down to the players, they have to want it from the heart. Just go there and get the job done and leave the fanciness at home. Be simple and effective. I will not miss the games, hopefully they will televise the games. They must fly the T&T flag high.
What do you feel is your strength on the field and what do you feel you need to work on to better yourself as a player?
KM: I believe hard work will make me a better player and some more goals as well; I want to be a high scoring midfielder. I always say to myself "nothing good comes easy". I am willing to work hard and achieve my goals in life.
Have you ever visited the Soca Warriors Online (SWO) and if so, what are your thoughts and what do you feel we can do more to keep you returning for frequent visits?
KM: You guys are doing a great job for Trinidad and Tobago Football. The site is will informative and I enjoy surfing on it when I get the time to, the videos are great too. Keep up the good work Flex.
As you might or might not know, you have a lot of followers on the Soca Warriors Online (SWO), would you like to say something to the fans out there?
KM: I love you all and thanks for coming and see me play the beautiful game of football, thanks for your support without the fans players are nothing, I love you all.
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