Former Trinidad and Tobago football team captain Densill Theobald has expressed his delight after playing a key role in North East Stars triumphant campaign in the 2017 TT Pro League season.
In a recent interview, the 35-year-old midfielder, who was a member of the TT team who participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, reflected on his season at North East, his stint in India, as well as serving as a role model for youths in the vicinity of the East Dry River, Port of Spain, where he was born and raised.
JOEL BAILEY (JB): “First Pro League title, how does it feel?”
DENSILL THEOBALD (DT): “It feels good. It was a very tough season, with the financial resources facing the club. So, for (us) to overcome that and keep together as a team, to be able to put in the work on a daily basis, was a fantastic effort by the players.
It was a great effort by myself, knowing that it wasn’t easy. It feels great, no feeling could describe this. It feels like qualifying for a World Cup again.”
JB: “Your quote ‘it wasn’t easy’, in what way specifically? In terms of financially or standard of the league?”
DT: “I think it’s both ways because what has happened, the financial resources affect the clubs (and) that affects players’ mindset and what does affect players’ mindset (will) affect training sessions (and) game performances. So, it always has a trickle-down effect. Hats off to the Board because we faced financial problems (but) we still maintained our work ethic, our discipline, that mentality and attitude of wanting to be champions.
That says a lot of the coach, the coaching staff, the management staff of North East and owner Darryl Mahabir.”
JB: “What made you join North East Stars?
DT: “It was a decision of having contributed to the organisation of Caledonia (AIA – now Morvant Caledonia United) and after the past few years where we had failure at Caledonia and I was part of it, I realised that probably I had to take a step out to probably be myself, putting myself in a position of wanting to win a Pro League title. So that helped in swaying my decision to go from Caledonia to North East.
Also, I needed that motivation. So, it’s only a change in environment that would cause that motivation to reoccur again. All that played a part in helping me to come here. Also, knowing that (coach Derek) King was here, who I worked with before on the national team, and then you have guys like Yohance Marshall, the skipper Elton John and my good friend Kerry Baptiste.
With them being here also made it an easier decision for me to join the team.”
JB: “You have played a number of years in India, with Dempo (2011-2012), Royal Wahingdoh (2014-2015), Sporting Clube De Goa (2015-2016) and Mumbai FC (2017), how was it like?”
DT: “It was great. In my four years in India, I won the (I-League) title there the first time, I came third twice and then last season I got relegated. It was basically a fun time in Asia. I learnt a lot, it helped me to grow as a person and as a player. The difficulties faced as a professional is not easy.
People always look at you, playing outside of Trinidad for the better financial package but they don’t understand the hardship that you have to endure out there. For me, having to endure that hardship helped me eventually to keep my feet on the ground and make me the person I am. It helped me to really appreciate life on a whole. It was great time in Asia for the past four years.”
JB: “You were born in the East Dry River area, Nelson Street to be exact, how is life there now?”
DT: “It’s always difficult and it’s always sad to know that these places (are) crime-infested areas with a lot of stigma.
For me, as an individual growing up there, I always used to view that as a way for me to be positive, to turn that negative into something positive, to be a role model and an example for the younger generation coming up, showing them and letting them be able to see that if I can do that, coming from these areas, they can to as well. It’s not where you come from determines who you are but what’s inside of you, as an individual, helps you on your pathway towards greatness and what God has in store for you.”
JB: “How long do you see yourself going for?”
DT: “I don’t really have any set plan for when I would really park it up. My good friend Kenwyne (Jones) retired the other day and I told him I’m going to keep playing until I have no love, passion and desire again.
I love getting up on a morning, going to training, working hard, showing that example and being a role model to the younger players coming up, showing them what it takes to achieve that level that they aspire to. I still love it. As long as the legs keep going, I’m going to keep playing. When that day comes, then we’ll know.”
JB: “Are you hopeful of an international recall?”
DT: “I haven’t announced my international retirement as yet but I see myself not casting myself out of the international game but leaving it for the younger players because the international game is played at a faster level. It’s a lot more physically demanding at the international level so it’s going to be difficult. I leave that for the younger generation and the younger players aspiring to play for the national team.”
JB: “Finally, immediate plans football-wise and otherwise?”
DT: “Because of my passion and love for the game, my strong desire, my discipline, I see myself, after hanging up my boots going into the coaching aspect. I see myself as being a coach, wherever the opportunity might present itself. That’s where I’m going to go after football.”