Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams has apparently already played his last game for defending Pro League champions DIRECTV W Connection after being told by coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier that he will never represent the club again.
Williams, 28, had a stellar 2012 on the field as he helped Connection to pip T&TEC FC to the league title on the final day of the season while he steered the “Savonetta Boys” and the “Soca Warriors” to second place in the Caribbean Cup club and international competitions respectively.
Charles-Fevrier, who gave Williams his senior debuts for Connection and Trinidad and Tobago, has always been his biggest fan. But a training ground confrontation looks to have shattered their professional relationship and Charles-Fevrier said that there will be no coming back for the talented goalkeeper.
“I don’t want Jan to play for me again,” Charles-Fevrier told Wired868.com. “I don’t have anything against him. He is a player I have supported tremendously and I would have no problem in giving him a recommendation to play outside. But he will not play for me again.
“I feel very strongly about and, if I have to sacrifice my job for my decision, I would.”
National midfielder Clyde Leon was named as Connection’s new captain although veteran Elijah Joseph would lead the squad out against Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA from 8 pm today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium as Leon is nursing an ankle injury.
Leaders Defence Force tackles North East Stars from 6 pm in the first game of a tasty Pro League double header.
But Williams, arguably the Pro League’s top goalkeeper, will not be involved and is unlikely to wear Connection’s colours again.
Connection chairman David John Williams, according to coach and captain, has supposedly backed Charles-Fevrier’s decision and confirmed as much to his goalkeeper through a written statement. Wired868 was unable to reach the chairman for comment.
The fall-out between the pair stemmed from a disagreement that took place almost two weeks ago, in front of the squad, during a video session.
Charles-Fevrier was admonishing his team for a feeble performance and Williams defended the players in a manner that the coach felt to be disrespectful. The pair clashed verbally and the Connection captain walked out of the session.
The goalkeeper told Wired868 that he had not meant to be disrespectful to anyone but believed he was justified in speaking up.
“I apologise to the coach or any member of staff or player who took offence to my actions,” said Williams. “But I think it was well justified. Sometimes you just have stand up for what you believe is right.
“I didn’t want to be rude or insubordinate anything like that and I’m sorry if some people didn’t take the message in the way it was intended.”
The two men have spoken briefly just once since the incident and Charles-Fevrier said the damage to their professional relationship is beyond repair. It is uncertain whether Williams ever apologised directly to Charles-Fevrier but the Connection coach said it would not save the goalkeeper’s job.
“If he had to apologise, it would have to have been right after the session,” he said. “It is too late to apologise now. It is not a decision I enjoyed making but it is one I felt I had to make.
“Jan left me no choice by walking out the training. He disrespected me as the coach of the team by doing that.”
Williams did not contradict his coach’s account but said he was disappointed to leave in this manner despite an unblemished disciplinary record since he joined the club in 2002.
“I don’t want to air dirty laundry in public,” he said. “Stuartie was the first coach to select me for the national team and 90 percent of what I learned in football, I learned from him. But now it looks like time for me to move on.
“I just think that, after one incident in nine or ten years, to be treated like this from the club is disappointing…
“I guess at the end of the day (the club chairman) decided the coach was the most important part of the process here. Everything happens for a reason.”
Williams was not in the squad last Saturday when Connection defeated Central FC 3-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium and it seems that a 3-0 loss to Defence Force in the Toyota Classic Cup on 30 November 2012 was the goalkeeper’s swansong.
The “Soca Warrior” remains under contract at Connection until March and told Wired868 that he will not seek a move to another Pro League club. Instead, he will turn his attention to abroad.
“I don’t want to play for anyone else in the country,” said Williams, “because of the respect I have for the club for what they have done to me in the past. My heart is (with) Connection and I don’t want to be part of another club.
“My intention for now is to go abroad; although things can change fast in football… I am getting older and I still want to try and play at the highest level while I also have to consider my situation with the national team and the (2013) Gold Cup. God will guide me, I guess.”
Williams represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and signed a contract with Sheffield United soon after but failed to get a work permit. He had stints in Belgium and Turkey but returned home, in 2011, after his then employer, Belgian third division team Royal Olympic Club de Charleroi-Marchienne, went bankrupt.
Connection took him back and Williams helped the club to its first League title in seven years. In the process, he edged ahead of Central custodian Marvin Phillip for Trinidad and Tobago’s number one jersey and was named international captain to boot as the Warriors stormed up the FIFA rankings.
But 2013 has not started well for the goalkeeper.
Charles-Fevrier admitted Connection is losing a talented player but insisted that the club would go on. He noted that, last season, Connection triumphed although the club loaned out then captain Hughtun Hector to Vietnam and lost five starting players to Olympic qualifying duty.
“Jan has done very well for the club and he is in the top two goalkeepers in the country,” said Charles-Fevrier. “So we have definitely lost a good player. But I will work with who I have and try to be successful.
“There are never any guarantees in football. Jan can be here and we can win and he can be here and we can lose. I don’t dwell on who is not here, I dwell on who’s here…
“We always need to be humble because football can build you up today and take you right back down tomorrow.”
NEWS UPDATED (Below) - January 18th, 2013.
W Connection and Jan-Michael agree amicable split.
There will be no reconciliation for defending Pro League champion football club DIRECTV W Connection and its former team captain and custodian Jan-Michael Williams. But there will be no more accusations from the two parties either.
W Connection chairman David John Williams and his namesake and former employee, Williams—the two are not related—told Wired868 last night that they would essentially agree to disagree and part amicably.
W Connection will continue to pay Williams, who is also the Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain, until his contract expires in March.
“He has served the club well over the years,” said the Connection boss. “There are happy memories and sad memories. And we wish him well in the future.
“He was an excellent professional and he always liked to work hard. I haven’t changed my position on that.”
Williams, a talented 28-year-old goalkeeper, also praised the only local club that he has represented since 2002 and the Connection coach, Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who gave him his first senior cap as a professional and with the Trinidad and Tobago senior international team.
It was a surprising disagreement between Fevrier and Williams that saw the latter being abruptly frozen out of the squad, two weeks ago.
The two men clashed verbally during a video session, in front of the entire squad, and Williams walked out after taking exception to Fevrier’s colourful language. The goalkeeper had pointed out to his coach that he had rebuked midfielder Clyde Leon, the new team captain, for swearing during an earlier training exercise.
Fevrier, the Pro League’s most successful coach, admitted to using obscene language but insisted that he did not directly abuse or disrespect any of his players, including Williams, but had been making an emotive point to his dressing room. He accused his former captain of questioning his authority and giving him an ultimatum in front of the squad by threatening to walk out.
Williams was stunned when the row cost him his place in the squad but all parties agreed to a clean break. However, the goalkeeper reacted angrily to an interview by W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean, on Tuesday, and accused the club of trying to tarnish his reputation.
Fevrier told Wired868 that Williams might have repaired their professional relationship if he had apologised immediately after the video session.
But the goalkeeper explained that he tried to resolve the situation by holding a meeting with the Connection owner. He never got one, though.
“When I walked out the (video session), I went straight to the manager and told him what happened and asked for a meeting with the president and the head of the disciplinary committee,” said the goalkeeper.
The following day, even before Williams met the disciplinary committee, he claimed Fevrier told his players that he would never represent the club again. And the goalkeeper was disappointed that the Connection boss ignored his requests for a meeting.
But David John Williams insisted that it would have been improper to meet him before the goalkeeper went before the disciplinary committee. And he does not regret his decision.
“I don’t have to meet with Jan because we have a process at the club,” he said. “I am not obligated to meet with Jan; it is not in his contract that I have to meet with him…
“He gave the coach an ultimatum that if he didn’t stop using obscene language he would walk out of the session. But he is my coach.
“I don’t see how meeting with Jan would have changed anything.”
Connection offered Williams the option to leave the club as a free agent during the Pro League transfer window and both coach and president said they would recommend the goalkeeper to any interested party.
“I did have the courtesy to pick up the phone and contact him and told him about the ruling of the disciplinary committee,” said the Connection chairman, “and I told him I would honour his contract… We even gave him enough time to find a team before the transfer window closed.”
Williams did not take up the option to move to a Pro League rival before the transfer window closed on Tuesday. It means he cannot represent another local club before 1 April 2013.
Most of the European leagues have until the end of January to register players. If nothing happens by then, the “Soca Warrior” will be unable to join another team until April while it could plausibly be until August before he plays another competitive club fixture.
Williams hopes he does not have to wait that long, especially as the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup starts on July 7 and his rivals Marvin Phillip and Cleon John are in fine form for Central FC and North East Stars respectively.
I have spoken to (my fiancée) Candice Worrell and we are both disappointed in the way it turned out,” he said. “If it is a situation where I have to go (abroad), she will be supportive because it is my bread and butter and we knew I would have to go out at some point…
“It was so out of blue and I can’t understand why (Fevrier) said it was past resolving. But something should happen eventually, so I don’t think it would be much an issue come the Gold Cup.”
Connection has already moved on by re-signing 34-year-old Colombian goalkeeper and former employee Alejandro Figueroa on a short-term deal until the end of the season.
Ironically, Connection released Figueroa, seven years ago, as a then 20-year-old Williams had begun to blossom.
“The issue is closed now,” said the Connection boss. “Jan has served us well and these things happen in football on a regular basis and we move on…
“There will be no more public statements from the club on this matter.”
Third placed W Connection plays sixth placed St Ann’s Rangers in Digicel Pro League action from 6 pm today at the Ato Boldon Stadium while leaders Defence Force tackles second place Neal & Massy Caledonia from 8 pm in the second game of a double header.