Shahdon’s sister says footballer was preparing for marriage…
The late Shahdon Winchester had big plans for wedding his long-time love, Tineille, on October 10 this year.
Having surprised her in 2019 by getting down on both knees and asking her hand in marriage, Winchester was already preparing for the pair’s big day.
This was revealed by the sister of the former national striker, Shania, as she gave his eulogy in front of an overflowing Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on Thursday.
Video footage of the ex-W Connection player, ring in hand, and kneeling before his overwhelmed girlfriend, alongside their daughter, Ada-Xyli, touched the hearts of those present. Mourners were unable to hold back the tears.
The 27-year old footballer died with three friends – Djenne Hills-Dyer, 28, Keston Nicholas, 22, and Michael Bradshaw, 21 – in a fiery crash on the Solomon Hochoy Highway in Gasparillo on December 19.
Shania revealed, “'Shadz' was ready to begin his life as a married man and was very sure about it. He planned the most dramatic proposal, with the support of his family. Plans were being made for a wedding on October 10, 2020. He was very particular and would tell her, ‘Tineille, you only getting married once, you know.’”
Hundreds of family members, friends, former and current footballers, past and present students of his former secondary school team Naparima College, TT Football Association (TTFA) executives and members of the public came together to bid a final farewell to the decorated athlete.
Besides his stellar footballing accolades, the former W-Connection skipper was also hailed for his family-oriented lifestyle and close connections with those around him.
In a short address, TTFA president William Wallace expressed condolences to the families of all who died in the crash.
He acknowledged Winchester for his multitude of footballing talents and reflected on their time together when he headed the National Olympic Under-23 team in 2012.
“I followed the career of Shahdon as a standout secondary school football player,” said a sombre Wallace. “When I managed the national Under-23 Olympic team, this is where I observed a very talented but unassuming, humble and respectful young man. Even as his game developed and he went on to represent the senior men’s team, that disposition remained the same.
"For us, gone too soon. Thank you, Shahdon, for your contribution to TT football.”
W-Connection CEO Renee John-Williams fought to compose herself as she delivered a message on behalf of the club. She also brought greetings on behalf of club owner and president, her father David, who is abroad.
John-Williams said Winchester was highly favoured at the club and worked hard to battle through the ranks and become captain of the "Savonetta Boys."
“Shahdon was truly a special young man – our spoilt child, even. You couldn’t tell the president anything about Shahdon, that was his son and he would do anything for him. I’m happy to have witnessed his growth from a young boy into a man that we were proud of. He was Connection through and through,” she said.
She said in 2008, the 16-year old Winchester travelled with the club to Brazil for a three-week pre-season camp. The following year he made his debut playing "big man football” with the TT Pro League, scoring two goals in his opening match. The very next week he made his CONCACAF Champions League debut, at 17.
Winchester went on to represent an array of international clubs but remained grounded at his domestic club, W-Connection.
An emotional but jovial tribute was also presented by his former Naparima College teammates, led by 2007 Intercol-winning striker, Nigel Wright. Winchester and Wright played alongside each other 12 years ago and went on to hoist school’s football most coveted crown. Also reminiscing on happier times at his alma mater were physical education teacher Richard Nagaur, and Winchester's ex-coach Sean Cooper, now at the helm of 2019 Intercol winners Presentation College.
Winchester’s funeral was chaired by Joel Joseph and opened with two musical items courtesy the Sand City Steel Orchestra. Tributes were also paid by the North West Laventille Cultural Movement, the Prisons Band, W-Connection chairman David Martin, Heaven Sent and his uncle Peter Winchester. The sermon was given by Gladstone Cuffie of the Princes Town Restoration Centre.
After the service, Winchester was laid to rest at the Holy Cross RC Churchyard Cemetery on Buen Intento Road, Princes Town.