Trinidad and Tobago forward Isaiah Lee is setting himself some big goals for 2019, chief among them being consistent selection of the Men’s Senior Team for a calendar year that includes the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Nations League.
Lee broke onto the international spotlight during the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championship at the IMG Academy in Bradenton during which he finished as T&T’s topscorer with four goals including a strike against eventual champions United States.
His performances earned him a call up within days to the Senior Men’s Team for the international friendly against Iran which saw him make his senior debut off the bench in the second half of the 1-0 defeat in Tehran. It has not been a regular occurrence at the international level for a teenager in recent years for T&T where a 19-year-old secures his maiden international run out against a top thirty world ranked nation mere days after a youth tournament.
“I was a bit nervous at the first training session (in Tehran) but I started thinking about why I got called up and that this opportunity could be a life changer in my football career,” Lee told TTFA Media.
“ I settled comfortably in the second training session having a growth mindset in looking ahead to my future,” he said.
The call up from head coach Dennis Lawrence was indeed a surprise for the former Naparima College player from Valencia who is now enrolled at Monroe Community College in the US.
“It was a bit of a surprise but I was pleased because I knew I had been working hard. It’s always a pleasure to get the chance to play with players who are at a high level in professional football. I learned a lot from them in the short space of time I was given.
“I was happy to meet with the whole team after flying for so many hours to get to Iran. As a new member to the team, I was confident enough to get through the singing at dinner which is like an orientation for the new calls up in front of the players and staff. All the players made me feel comfortable in being around the team. I adapted well since I had now come from a competitive tournament and playing against strong teams like the US,” Lee continued.
He spoke about his initial interaction with Lawrence and how it played out over the few days in Tehran.
“Coach was explaining to me the style of football he wants me to perform as a striker on the pitch along with some tactical information on how to enhance my personal performance. It was a great experience getting to play at a higher level than college football.
“This experience built my confidence for professional football. I’m thankful for the experience and this was an exciting period being able to make my debit for my national senior team and hopefully there will be more caps to come. I really want to get into the team on a consistent basis in 2019 especially with the Gold Cup around the corner,” Lee concluded.
His head coach at Monroe, Nelson Cupello, said it didn’t take long for the player to distinguish himself on the pitch in Rochester.
“Isaiah was that player who brought some professionalism to the team. The fact that he was on the U-20 national team showed all of his teammates how to train to get to that level. It was contagious,” Cupello said.
“Isaiah made everyone around him better,” Cupello said. “That’s what made him so valuable to us when he was on the field. We really missed him when he left to represent his country.”