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Stern John knew something was terribly wrong.

He had just finished practice at Nottingham Forest on the morning of Oct. 3 and went into his locker room. He had 57 missed calls on his cell phone.

"I thought that something wasn't right," the former Columbus Crew player said. "I was scared, and I didn't want to call back home."

His agent called Forest, and club officials broke the news.

Mickey Trotman, John's childhood buddy, had been killed in a car accident near his home in Arima, Trinidad, that morning along with his brother, Stephan, and a female companion, Tessa Moses.

They died instantly when the Honda Civic Mickey Trotman was driving struck an electrical pole near his home.

Another brother, Kenyon, and friend Troy Fernandez were in serious condition in the hospital.

John and Trotman had known each since junior high school.

At Arima Senior Comprehensive, Trotman was so popular he once brought the house down — literally. In one game against archrival El Dorado, Trotman scored on a volley from 35 yards, and the wooden bleachers collapsed under celebrating Arima fans. Several were hurt.

After high school, Trotman earned a scholarship at the University of Mobile, where he was an NAIA All-American. John went to Mercer County Community College.

They were reunited on the A-League's New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers in 1997.

The next year, Trotman was picked up by MLS's Dallas Burn and John went to the Crew, both as discovery players.

Trotman didn't have the success John had in MLS, but he had a decent first season (five goals and three assists).

"He started like a house of fire until the league recognized his ability," said then-Dallas coach David Dir after Trotman's first season.

In 1999, Trotman became the odd foreigner out when the Burn acquired Ecuadoran star Ariel Graziani, and the Trinidadian was traded to Miami.

He played in Trinidad with Joe Public in 2000 but returned to the United States this season to play for the A-League's Rochester Rhinos.

Trotman's shining moment with Trinidad & Tobago came in 2000 when his golden goal gave the Soca Warriors a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup.

Trotman, who had played in three Hexagonal games, arrived in Trinidad from Rochester on Oct. 2 to prepare for the World Cup qualifier with Honduras in San Pedro Sula.

After dinner, he left the team hotel to visit his mother and aunt. Curfew was 11 p.m. The crash took place at 1:55 a.m.

John was supposed to remain at Nottingham Forest for a key League Cup game, but T&T coach Rene Simoes needed him to replace Trotman. John met the team in Miami.

The Hexagonal had been a disaster for the Soca Warriors. After winning their semifinal round group, ahead of Mexico, there was promise of a World Cup bid for T&T, but nothing went right, beginning with the schedule.

The Soca Warriors opened with two games on the road and Mexico at home in their third game. They lost to Jamaica and Costa Rica and tied Mexico. It would be their only point in eight games. Stars Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy would quit the team and then return, only to be suspended by Simoes when he replaced Scotsman Ian Porterfield.

No one expected the Soca Warriors to beat Honduras, which could have qualified with a win and a U.S. or Mexico loss.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena said he would have bet his house that Honduras wouldn't lose.

T&T had former UConn star Brent Rahim red-carded in the 20th minute. The Catrachos had dozens of chances but couldn't score. Five shots hit the crossbar in the second half. Former Howard keeper Shaka Hislop, one of seven T&T starters to have played pro or college ball in the United States, made countless saves.

John, who wouldn't have been with the Soca Warriors but for Trotman's death, scored the goal that beat Honduras, 1-0, and helped put the United States in the World Cup.

John, who tattooed "Blacks," Trotman's nickname, on his left calf, said he couldn't stop crying.

"When I scored the goal," he said, "I was really emotional but I was celebrating the goal. Then, after about five minutes, I just broke down in tears. I was lying on the
ground crying, and I couldn't even move."

John had planned to meet Trotman this fall in Ireland. He had arranged a tryout for Trotman at Bohemians, where John's brother, Avery, plays.

After the Honduras game, Stern John returned to Arima for the Trotmans' funeral.

Mickey Trotman would have been 27 on Oct. 21.

He is survived by his 1-year-old son, Mikyle.