ACE “Soca Warriors” Stern John is now a free agent as his contract with Pro League team DIRECTV North East Stars was not renewed by the team’s management.
According to the team’s owner/president Darryl Mahabir, “we had a three- month contract and it came to an end.”
Mahabir added that the management decided not to renew the contract of the 35-year-old, who joined the club in August after recovering from a year-long right knee injury.
John has scored 70 goals for the national team in his 114-game international career, and was in the “Soca Warriors” team beaten 2-1 Guyana in Georgetown in their CONCACAF zone World Cup qualifiers and out of Brazil 2014.
In related news, midfielder Chris Birchall, who, like John, last played for the “Soca Warriors” in their defeat away to Guyana, was placed on the unprotected player list by his American Major League Soccer (MLS) club Los Angeles Galaxy.
Birchall was a member of the LA Galaxy team which defeated the Houston Dynamos 1-0 on a goal by Landon Donovan, to win the MLS Cup one week ago.
A story on the Galaxy website stated that the 27-year-old central midfielder is among 16 players on the unprotected list ahead of the MLS Expansion Draft for the Montreal Impact.
“Teams that competed this past season were allowed to protect 11 players as well as any Generation Adidas or Homegrown players,” the story said.
Striker Stern John moves on.
North East Stars Release.
Trinidad & Tobago's record goalscorer, Stern John has completed his three month agreement with DIRECTV North East Stars and will now move on to new challenges. The Sangre Grande based club revealed that Johns agreement with the club had now ended and thanked the 35 year old former Birmingham, Sunderland and Ipswich Town striker for his services.
"Its been a great boost to the club, having Stern around" said C.E.O. Brent Sancho. "Obviously, Stern and I go back a long way, having played together for the National team. But its been great for the younger lads having an icon like Stern to train with every day. When you see how he pulls aside players like Kaydion Gabriel for extra shooting practice after training has finished, it reminds you how much Stern still has to offer the game."
North East President, Darryl Mahabir said "It was a great priviledge to have a player with Sterns pedigree at the club. We knew we could not afford to keep him permanently because he can certainly command a greater wage overseas, but the circumstances were right at the time for us to sign Stern on a temporary basis."
Mahabir said the investment didn't really pay off for North East due to the State of Emergency. "Our aim was always to offset Sterns wages by marketing our games to increase attendances as well as selling replica shirts. However, once the SOE disrupted the Pro League fixtures we only saw Stern in a North East shirt for 2 Pro League matches, in which he scored one goal."
Asked if he thought that signing John was a bad investment for the club, Mahabir replied " Not at all. Thats football, sometimes. We knew Stern needed to get match fit for the World Cup Qualifiers and we felt that we could help the countrys' World Cup efforts by signing Stern and raise the profile of North East at the same time.
No one could have forseen the disruption to fixtures caused by the S.O.E. and of course Stern was struck by tragedy when, sadly, his mother passed away. I just hope that being around the team at that time helped to combat his grief."
North East Stars Operations Director, Kevin Harrison said "Its been great having a legend like Stern around." Harrison said that in England, Stern was one of those players who was admired by supporters of many clubs.
"Of course, Sterns goalscoring record meant that many supporters hated seeing him line up for the opposition! Stern was part of two teams that won promotion to the Premiership, Birmingham City and Sunderland and I was delighted to see him play at the highest level." Harrison added that he was excited when he knew that Stern was joining North East Stars.
"It was great, as not only would he add some glamour to the Pro League, but the marketing possibilities were fantastic. However, circumstances beyond our control meant that we could never really take advantage. Of course, we knew we could never hold on to him for longer than 3 months. Stern could still walk into any League 1 club in England, and probably many Championship clubs for that matter"
North Easts Director of Football Operations, Kevin Jeffrey, a close friend of John, said "We're all sad to see Stern leave, but we wish him well for the future. I'm sure he'll be signing with an overseas club in the next few weeks. The last few months have been very emotional for Stern, and I'm sure he's looking to make a fresh start overseas"
North East Stars will now be looking to replace John with some new faces. "We have been talking to some T&T internationals as well as players from Colombia and Brazil" said Mahabir. "We will also look closer to home at younger players who have stood out in the Super League as well as our Champion of Champions tournament."