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stern23.jpgUnprofessional !

Southampton FC striker and Trinidad and Tobago's all-time record scorer Stern John yesterday slammed the unprofessional approach of the present national coaching staff after being left out the team without any official explanation.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) contacted Southampton, an English Championship Division club, early this month to request John's services for their 2010 World Cup qualifying fixture away to Cuba on August 20. However, John was stunned to receive a text message during the week from someone within the T&TFF-but not a member of the coaching staff-who said that national coach Francisco Maturana did not want him.

The prolific striker, whose international tally of 69 goals is sixth best of any striker who played the game and more than double the returns of any compatriot, got confirmation of his omission by the media rather than the T&TFF.

"I don't mind being left out (because) that is part of the game," John told the Express. "But the way they handled it was completely unprofessional. They sent a fax out to my manager a week and a half ago saying they wanted me and then someone sent me a text a couple nights ago saying they didn't want me to come back.

"They haven't told me anything yet Not even a phone call or a text or an email just to say 'Stern, this is the situation'.

"After all the years I served my country with honour, it is just about respect."

Neither Maturana nor the T&TFF explained John's exclusion for the Cuba qualifier. John scored the lone goal in a 2-1 qualifying home loss to Bermuda in June but was shocked to lose his starting position for the return leg. John came off the bench to grab the decisive goal as the "Soca Warriors" overcame Bermuda 2-0 and advanced on goal aggregate.

It was John's first taste of the man-management style of the present coaching staff and he was less than impressed. At present, David Muhammad holds the post of team manager, which usually includes the responsibility of ensuring the national players' well-being.

"They have no clue about player management," said the 31-year-old John. "(In Britain) once you are a senior player, the manager pulls you aside a couple days before (the game) and says I am going to leave you out this weekend or I am going to start you on the bench. This is how we are accustomed to things being done in the professional world

"It is embarrassing for a senior player to be treated like this."

John and Maturana, a two-time World Cup coach with his native Colombia, got off to a bad start in the latter's first game in charge against Guadeloupe in February.

The coach asked Densill Theobald to captain the team but, before kick off, the midfielder passed the armband to his 2006 World Cup teammate. Both players were substituted at halftime and Maturana dropped Theobald for five months for not following his instructions.

John insisted that neither he nor Theobald meant to disrespect the coach and too much was made of the episode.

"They passed Theobald the armband and he said I was the most senior man and passed it to me," said John. "I didn't think (Maturana) would take it so personally.."

He accepts that his services may no longer be required although he is not yet ready to retire from the international game.

"I had a fantastic career for Trinidad and Tobago," said John, "and going to the World Cup was a dream come through.

"Marvin (Andrews) and I were talking about it recently because we were there from under-16 when there was no travelling (allowance) or free boots. All we would get was a box lunch to play for your country. But to get to the World Cup was worth the sacrifice.

"I was one of the players who, whenever he got called up, was always there no matter what the situation. I always put my country first.

"If it ends here, I will obviously be disappointed but I had a fantastic career and I enjoyed every minute of it If I have taken my country as far as I can, then so be it."