Tue, Jul

It could almost be a quiz question designed to confuse any football fan: 'Which player, currently playing his club football in England, but not in the Premiership, has scored more international goals than Ronaldo, Gabriel Batistuta, Bobby Charlton and Jurgen Klinsmann?'

The answer can be found at Derby County Football Club and their striker Stern John, currently on loan from Coventry City. The 31-year old has scored 64 goals in 89 matches for Trinidad and Tobago and is just 13 goals away from equalling the legendary Pele's tally. But now the charismatic John has Bahrain and a FIFA World Cup™ appearance in his sights – and fans in Port of Spain will be praying he adds to his goals' total against the Asian hopefuls. Your scoring record for T&T is phenomenal – when you made your international debut nearly ten years ago did you think you’d score this many goals?
Stern John: No, but I wanted to! As a striker you love scoring goals, you want to score goals and I believed in my own ability. But I didn't think that I would score this amount. To be honest, I haven't really paid attention to the number of goals I have scored, until I was coming up to the record. But I didn't know how close I was to Pele's total until this interview. That's awesome! That's something that every player would like to do, but feel that they couldn't because Pele is such a legend.

How does it feel to be T&T's record goalscorer?
A goalscoring record is something that no one can take away from you. It's something that I am proud of, it's something that my family and friends are proud of and the joy that I feel right now will be increased providing we qualify for the World Cup. Being Trinidad and Tobago's record goalscorer is an honour, a great honour and it is something that I will cherish throughout my career and for the rest of my life.

It must be great to play in a side that create so many chances for you?
It is. We are a great team when we go forward because we have a lot of skilful players and players who do well whenever they have the ball at their feet. They make it easy for me to put the ball in the back of the net. Sometimes, I feel a little bit harsh on the other players: I get all the glory for scoring, but the guys who I'm playing with are doing most of the hard work for me.

How crucial has the return of Russell Lapaty been for T&T?
He and his return have been very, very important for us. We were struggling to create chances before he came into the team and that put a lot of pressure on myself to make the most of the opportunities I found myself in. Russell can not only create chances, but he can score goals as well, so it is no surprise that the team have been doing better since he has come back.

What's it like playing with Dwight Yorke?
He is a top man. He is one of the best players that I have played with or played against. I think he is still one of the best finishers in the world. He is a great professional who works really hard and he always goes about his job properly. It's great to play alongside him, we have a good understanding and I would like to think that our partnership works well for the team.

How did you feel when you missed the penalty against Mexico in the final qualifier?
Thanks for reminding me! No one would have wanted to be in my boots after that miss. My boots didn't even want to be my boots after that. I felt awful. But I had to put it to the back of my mind quickly and get over it. When you take a penalty you either score or miss. Sounds simple, doesn't it, but the emotions you feel are really powerful. On this occasion, the keeper made a good save and I just had to dig myself out of the hole I wanted to put myself in. To come back and score two goals after the penalty miss and win the game shows the character that we have in this side.

Are you confident going into the play-offs with Bahrain?
Yes we are confident. We don't know much about Bahrain, we are just focusing on ourselves. We don't want to take Bahrain too lightly. It's a massive game for both countries but there is no question of us underestimating them. We do think we are a better team than they are – but now we have to go out there and prove it.

Would you say you were favourites?
I think the general footballing world would consider us as favourites, but in a play-off situation, anything can happen. It's just two games, it's about who wants it more. Now we have to stay focused, forget about all the distractions and the feelings of excitement about playing at a World Cup – we just have to get there by beating Bahrain.

Would you have preferred to play the second leg at home?
Yes, I would have done. In truth, you always want to play the second leg at home, despite what other players and coaches may say. The first game is very important. It sets the tone for the second match. Personally I would have loved to qualify in Trinidad. It is something that we have been trying to do for decades; we came so close in 1989 – we only needed a point and we lost the game against the USA, so that's left a bitter taste in the mouth. However, I suppose that the most important thing is not where we qualify, but qualification itself.

What difference has coach Leo Beenhakker made to the team?
Leo has made a massive difference. He and his staff came in and set their stall out by telling us what they wanted to achieve and how they were going to do it. The players understand him; he understands the players and I think he has done brilliantly. He has been a great influence for me. When I was going through a bit of a drought, he kept his faith in me when the fans didn't and that is something that I will never forget. His appointment has been great for the team and for the country.

Do you think you would have been in this position without him?
I don't think so. When he came in he made a lot of changes and I think we needed that. A lot of the players were too comfortable under the old regime, but now different players have been brought in and we are trying different things. He has tested us and brought the best out of us.

And finally, just how far are T&T away from challenging the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica in the CONCACAF region?
I can see us challenging them and perhaps overtaking them. We have players who are working in the world's top leagues – players just as good as the Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA. What we have to do now is stick together as a team, work hard and keep our discipline. That is the most important thing, especially on the pitch. The USA don't really have a star player – they are just a very good team. We have to copy their example. But if we qualify for the World Cup, things are only going to get better for us.