THE LOCAL football fraternity has been plunged into mourning as ex-national goalkeeper Michael “Mike” McComie passed away from a brain tumour, at the Mt Hope Hospital yesterday afternoon.
The 46-year-old ex-Joe Public goalie and coach was a member of the TT team who featured, under the guidance of Bertille St Clair, at the 1991 FIFA World Youth (Under-19) Championship in Portugal.
He also had six international appearances for TT, from 1998 to 2003.
Brent Sancho, McComie’s former teammate at both club and national level, admitted last night, “I’m still in a state of shock.”
Sancho added, “I’m a bit speechless about the whole scenario. A weekend ago, I played with McComie in a charity game in Moruga, and we had a lot of catching up and candid moments to discuss.
“To hear the news just shows you how precious life is. I got the phone call from his family, who I’d gotten close to over the past year. Everybody is still in a state of shock.”
About his memories of McComie, Sancho acknowledged, “He’s been the outspoken, jovial life of any squad. When I joined Joe Public on loan (in 2000) and when I played with the national team, he (was) always a leader, a special character and will make any sad moment a happy and jovial one.
“As a young player, he was one of those that I spent a lot of time with.”
Sancho admitted, “To hear this news is just unbelievable. It just shows you how life is and how important that we take each step and each day that God gives us and live it to the fullest. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
His former coach at Joe Public, Jamaal Shabazz, remembered him for his outspoken and feisty personality.
“He was quite a character to manage, and even a bigger character as a coach,” said Shabazz. “A very lively spirit, always competitive and one of the coaches who had a bright future.
“All my condolences to his family,” added Shabazz.
McComie, the former St Augustine Senior Comprehensive and ECM Motown keeper, played with San Juan Jabloteh in 1997, then migrated to the United States where he played on the indoor circuit for a couple years. In 1999, he returned to the local arena at the “Eastern Lions” Joe Public, where he played until hanging up his gloves in 2004.
He then coached Joe Public at the National Super League and then Pro League levels until he was replaced by Barbadian Keith Griffith in 2008.
McComie and his 1991 World Cup teammate Angus Eve then teamed up as coaches with the now-defunct Ma Pau FC in 2009.
He also had a stint as national Under-20 coach before he was suspended by the then TTFF (now TTFA) after an incident, during a training match at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima on July 27 2012, with W Connection utility player Alvin Jones.
During his days as Joe Public coach, McComie had numerous battles with another combative tactician, Jabloteh’s Terry Fenwick.
When contacted, Fenwick noted, “He was very competitive. Life is a real struggle. The (local) administration has not been able to sustain some good people that should still be working and develop the young players in TT.
“McComie’s gone at such an early age. This is a sad day for football.”
McComie also had spells with Super League teams Guaya United and Real Maracas. In his later years, he tried his hand at table tennis, and even served as a member of the TT Table Tennis Association.