Speaking with Chris.
1. What’s your most memorable moment or match, whether for country or club?
Getting voted young player of the year at Port Vale after having a good season. And for T&T the goal against Honduras. It was a dream come true moment. I’m really glad to get a goal in my international career.
2. Name two persons, whether relative or not who have been an inspiration to you.
Me Dad. I followed him when he was younger because he used to be into a lot of sports. He helped with football right through. Was always there to drive wherever I needed to go and play with me when I was younger. My whole family really has been supportive. My brother Simon who plays for a pub team has always been there playing with me all the time. Maybe if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today because we always used to be knocking it around.
3. Any favourite player or team?
Liverpool. I think my favourite player would have to be Ian Rush because I was also a striker so I used to look at him. I was a striker up to age 13 and then got adapted to midfield when a coach at Port Vale, Jeff Aston wanted to be a winger on the right. It’s always been right. I still prefer playing right wing even though I’m doing okay in the middle for Trinidad.
4. What would be your preferred other profession?
Something to do with football whether it be coaching young kids or management or even being a physiotherapist.
5. What do you hope to accomplish either in next 5 years or end of playing career?
To play at the highest standard possible in the English League, hopefully play in the English Premiership and live a good life. I want to help T&T qualify for the World Cup and to be a regular in the team.
6. Who’s been among your most admired coaches and why?
Leo Beenhakker because he’s the most experienced and he’s got great respect all over the world and for the chance he has given me at this stage of my career. At club level since I was nine at Port Vale there’s been so many. And then there’s the guy who introduced me to the game, Ian Challinor – a former Stoke City coach, while I was at school at Walton Priory Middle School. I joined the The Ian Challinor’s Soccer School. I would train there every Saturday from the age of seven until I was spotted at age nine and taken up by Port Vale. I still went to the soccer school until 13. At Port Vale, we would train on a Wednesday and Friday night from nine until 12 which is when we started playing matches on a Sunday afternoon. Then at 16 when you finish school, you signed the scholarship forms, which is a youth team contract. From then on you train every day from 9 until 2pm. You don’t play at the main stadium until you’re in the first team but I was fortunate to play for the Port Vale first team which was in Division Two at age 16 away to Charlton Athletic in 2000. Then I made my home debut next season against Plymouth Argyle. We lost 5-1 at home and I started the game. I played only a few games though under Brian Horton. Tony Rougier was there at the time. But it was frustrating times for me because I felt I could have been in the first team more regular but I was only being used for the Youth team and Reserves It was really a time to be patient and wait for my chance and it only came last season under the new manager. I played 35 games for the season. Now there’s been a few clubs interested if I wasn’t going to sign on at Port Vale. I signed one year after the youth contract ended and then last season I signed a two-year extension. Among the clubs interested were Rotherham, Oldham Athletic, Barnsley, Macclesfield and Tranmere Rovers. I decided on Port Vale because at this time in my career I felt I needed a couple seasons at Port Vale to establish myself as a regular player and to improve my game because I still need to work on a few things. Plus I grew up at the club having been there at nine. Defensively I need to be a bit stronger. The whole package really needs to get a bit better. And right now the experience with Trinidad is also helping a lot. I think I have improved since playing for them.
7. What do you think of T&T’s chances of making it to the 2006 World Cup?
From speaking to the lads, everyone thinks we can qualify. Since the new coach has taken over, everyone has seen the performances improve and we all know about the games coming up. I think we have a great chance of getting the results to take us to third spot.
8. Any instances or plays that you always reflect on?
Everything has gone better than I expected really. I started and enjoyed my first full season for Port Vale and then to get the international call up. It was shocker for me. I never expected anyone in Trinidad to even know me and then to invite me to the camp. I always thought about playing for Trinidad since I knew my mom was born in Trinidad. It was in the back of my mind but I never thought it would become a reality. Obviously the one player everyone knows about from Trinidad is Dwight, even though if you don’t know anything about the country, you still know that he’s been from there and at that time the thought used to cross my mind. I thought it would always be amazing and I started learning more about the country and the players obviously because of me mum. When we played Wrexham at home, Dennis Lawrence came up to me on the pitch and asked me if I have got any Trini blood in me and I said ‘Well yeah, me mum is from there’ and he just said he needed to speak to me after the game.” Then I gave him my mobile number after the game and he said to expect a phone call from Mike Berry and then later that evening Mike rang me and said that Jack Warner had noticed my goal against Barnsley and that got voted “Goal of the season” for the club by the fans. Mike said that Mr Warner and Leo Beenhakker wanted to know if I would be interested in attending the camp before the Panama game so that they could have a look at me. I said I would have to discuss the matter with my parents and then the next day I rang Mike back and said I would love to join the camp and train with the rest of the lads. Three days later after I flew over with Clayton, went to the Alianza Lima game and then checked in at the Crowne Plaza. It was then time for the camp to start. Ever since I got the phone call it’s just been a great journey, going better than I expected and I just hope that this journey climaxes in Germany.
9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
From my Dad ever since I was a kid he knew I wanted to be a footballer and he’s never doubted me.
10. What do you do to relax away from the game?
Relax with my girlfriend, Clare who I recently met (She’s English). I also love to play other sports like lawn tennis and table tennis with my family.
11. What’s your favorite dish?
Chicken Koima Balti.
12. Favourite drink?
Vimtoe – a soft drink.
13. How do you feel now as a Trinidadian playing in the UK League?
I feel like I have got a lot more confidence and I have more in my own ability. I know I must be doing something good and there’s also more respect from other people. I have been doing the same things back in England though. The hardest thing for me which may not be for other players is adapting to the weather in Trinidad.
14. What’s been the high and low points in the past six months?
The low point was Port Vale having a disappointing season. We should have been competing for the playoff places where at the end of season we were fighting to stay in the Division. High point speaks for itself really. The Trinidad call up, getting goal of the season and then being named young player of the year all at the age of 20 and I’ve just turned 21.
15. Favourite type of music?
Old songs like some Phil Collins, R&B and hip hop and Pop. Oh yea and I love Soca now. Machel Montano and Destra’s “It’s Carnival”, Great song that.
16. Favorite time of year?
17. Most comfortable football boot?
The new Umbro. I’m wearing those now.
18. Name one thing about yourself you would change if given the chance. Even if it meant going back in time.
I don’t think there’s anything to change mate. It’s gone well so far in my life and I’ll just like to keep it up. There will be challenges but hopefully I can be good enough to deal with them
19. Preferred wear.
Casual – just a jeans, t-shirt and trainers.
20. Any advice for others aspiring to make something of themselves?
If you decide you want to go at something and make something of yourself in life, just go for it and don’t go up because things have happened in my life that I never expected like the Trinidad call up.