His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, received members of the 1989 Trinidad and Tobago National Football Team admirable dubbed “Strike Squad” on a Courtesy Call on November 19, 2014, in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the historic World Cup qualifying match against the United States of America.
Although the team did not win the match, they succeeded in uniting the people of Trinidad and Tobago in a manner that saw the National Stadium transformed into a sea of red, the supporting colour of the Strike Squad. So memorable was the event that twenty-five years later that day still lives on in the hearts and minds of everyone who witnessed that historic match.
It is as a token of their efforts and the way in which they unified a nation through their accomplishments, His Excellency presented each member of the team with a laminated and framed copy of an aerial photograph taken at kick-off time on that day, November 19, 1989.
Mr and Mrs Frank & Diana Clarke, the initiators of the gift to each member of the team along with Mr Stephen Dalla-Costa, the photographer who took the shot were also present on the occasion.
When invited to say a few words, Mr Clarke thanked His Excellency for taking time from his busy schedule to host the team on the 25th Anniversary of that fated match and for the privilege of being present to see the players receive the photographs.
President Carmona spoke about his experiences at the match and showed a photograph of himself dressed in colours of a true Strike Squad supporter carrying a National Flag on that day. He further spoke about the feeling and the spirit of oneness throughout the country and he himself had begun to make arrangements to travel to Italy to see Trinidad and Tobago, the smallest English speaking country in the Western Hemisphere and the smallest country in the world to ever appear at the World Cup of football.
Although Trinidad and Tobago did not reach the World Cup on that occasion, His Excellency asked each of the team members present to speak of his experience and feelings after the match.
One by one the players spoke of their disappointment and sadness with the then Captain, Clayton Morris along with Leonson Lewis being brought to tears. Many spoke of their lost for the love of the game for extended periods and feeling that they had let down their country. All this was accompanied by the many “what ifs”, what if I struck the ball this, what if the attack started on the left wing instead of the right, etc.
His Excellency thanked each one of them for their sharing their thoughts and feelings and then invited them to some light refreshments. He then had champagne served and raised a toast to the Strike Squad for what they did to this twin island state through their efforts, and may they continue to provide inspiration to others.
The members of the team present at the commemorative were:
- Everald Gally Cummings – Coach
- Lester Osuna – Physiotherapist
- Clayton Morris – Team Captain
- Brian Williams
- Dexter Francis
- Kelvin Jones
- Errol Lovell
- Floyd Lawrence
- Leonson Lewis
- Dexter Lee
- Kerry Jameson