Sat, Sep

FLASHBACK: This 1989 Trinidad and Tobago Strike Squad photo shows trainer Ken Henry, second from right, middle row, next to deceased manager, and ex-Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation president, Oliver Camps, at right.

KEN HENRY, the former footballer and Trinidad and Tobago national team trainer and head coach, has passed away.

Expressing condolences at Henry’s passing yesterday were Selby Browne, president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) and former colleagues Everald “Gally” Cummings and Clayton Morris.

“We at VFFOTT extend our condolences to the family of former national footballer, coach, trainer, administrator and founder of the Henry’s Physical Association, Kenneth “Ken” Henry,” stated Browne in a statement.

Henry was both a man of culture and sport. A long-standing supporter of the Invaders steelband, with his speed and diminutive size, he was also a fixture at right-wing back for the famous Malvern football team of the early 1960s.

Henry had spells as T&T head coach and trainer, and was a member of the technical staff of two T&T teams that marginally failed to qualify for a FIFA World Cup, in 1973 and 1989. The “Soca Warriors” eventually qualified in 2006, under Dutchman Leo Beenhakker.

Coached by Englishman Kevin Verity and assisted by local coaches Edgar Vidale and Henry, T&T finished second with six points at the 1973 CONCACAF Championships played at Stade Sylvio Cator, Port-au-Prince, with Caribbean neighbours Haiti taking the lone spot to the Germany 1974 FIFA World Cup.

Everald “Gally” Cummings, one of the outstanding T&T players at the 1973 tournament, remembers Henry as a seasoned older player whom he looked up to. He yesterday expressed condolences to his family.

“Ken Henry was a giant of a man. I admired and respected him as a younger player when he played for Malvern with my older brother,” Cummings told the Sunday Express. “Later, it was a privilege for me when I joined him as a player on the senior national team in 1965 on my first tour to Jamaica.”

Henry was also the trainer under Cummings in 1989 when T&T came within a point of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Needing just a home draw, T&T infamously went down 1-0 in Port of Spain, allowing the then third-placed United States to leapfrog them to the World cup spot.

“I will always remain appreciative of the support he gave me as trainer of the national team as a young senior national coach at the age of 39 during 1987-1989, a role he also played in our World Cup team’s participation in Haiti in 1973 and in 1976 preliminaries,” Cummings added.

“He was always at my side to advise me and share his experience with me so I could do my best for the country. He will always be remembered for his sterling contribution in my development as a coach and in the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago,” Cummings concluded.

Clayton Morris, captain to that 1989 T&T “Strike Squad” credited Henry with doing a fantastic job of getting the players in peak physical condition and as a father-figure who players could discuss personal issues with.

Morris also vividly remembers a statement Henry regularly made.

“At one time we were in Costa Rica for a qualifier and the place was smokey. He (Henry) said we have to ‘obliterate all external factors and work’,” Morris recalled. “That is something we (Strike Squad) will always remember, and even now I use it in my coaching.”