Kicking plastic bottles with his cousins in Lambeau, Tobago, has landed Keon Daniel a spot on the national senior football team.
“My little cousins started to play with me, running about kicking plastic bottles,” related Daniel to D Bench.
“It was my biggest cousin that took me to my first training session,” added Daniel. “As a youngster, I was always a cut about the others.”
Daniel, who is now a fixture on the Soca Warriors team under Colombian coach Fransciso Maturana, insisted that it was because of Yorke he was influenced in working hard to reach where he is today.
“Back home as a young footballer, I had to grow accustomed to hearing Dwight Yorke, Dwight Yorke, Dwight Yorke. Yes, Yorke has been one of my role models ....... he gave me the courage to keep working hard.
“We need more Dwight Yorke’s in Tobago and there are many others out there,” added the “baby” on the Soca Warriors squad.
Like Yorke, 21-year-old Daniel was spotted by former national coach Bertille St Clair, a man who has an eye for pinpointing talent.
After attending Elizabeth’s College for one term, St Clair was instrumental in obtaining a transfer for Daniel to move to Signal Hill.
Moving from the Under-14’s to the U-16’s and finally the championship team of Signal Hill was a forgone conclusion for Daniel.
“My coach Bertille St Clair always encouraged me to work hard, and this is what I have been doing all the time,” Daniel said.
“I got my opportunity representing the national U-20 team and then graduated to the senior team,” added Daniel.
“Now, I feel great representing my country since in my earlier days I grieved and wanted to be out there wearing the red, black and white outfit.
“It is an honour because there are so many players who want to be out there and can’t be there. I thank all those who pushed me.”
The former United Petrotrin player has struck form at the right time, scoring four goals in the World Cup semifinals.
Being the leading goalscorer so far for T&T has opened up “my eyes” according to Daniel.
“I am really proud of myself scoring goals for my country. I couldn’t do it by myself and must give credit to my teammates.”
Asked how he celebrates when he scores for the national team, Daniel said: “I don’t celebrate by myself. I choose to celebrate with the guys because the whole team had a part to play in the goal.”
The player believes that there are great things ahead for him in the future.
In offering words of encouragement to younger players, Daniel said: “Believe in what you are doing. Work hard and forget all the negatives. Trust in God. With him all things are possible.”