Gally Cummings

WHEN FOOTBALL RULED: The Paragon team that defeated Malvern on the St Mary’s College ground for the Port of Spain Cup in 1968. At centre, front row, is goalie Gerald Figeroux. Gally Cummings is third from left, back row.

Mere weeks after the passing of former national team defender Reynold George, the country has lost another outstanding footballer albeit, in this instance, departing this world almost without mention.

Former Paragon and national team goalkeeper Gerald Figeroux died on October 26, unknown, it seems, to most of the players and fans of his era. He was 76.

The Express was made aware of his passing only when former national team coach Everald “Gally” Cummings called on Wednesday afternoon, aggrieved that only a small group of family, friends and former players attended the funeral service of his friend and long-time teammate at Belgrove’s Crematorium and Chapel in Tacarigua, last Friday.

Cummings explained that they shared a history from youth and club levels to the national team.

“We both came from Port of Spain,” he told the Express. “I, from Dundonald Street and “Figgy” from Edward Street.”

That neighbourhood connection led them both, as teenagers, to play for Glory Guys and later, to join Paragon. It was a move that galvanised their careers, the “Caribana Boys” being crowned Port of Spain National League (PoSNL) champions in 1964, with the likes of Tony Govia mentoring Cummings (15) and Figeroux (21), the two talented upstarts in their ranks.

By 1968-69 Figeroux was a fixture on the national team. That year, Cummings returned from a stint abroad and the renewed partnership yielded the Port of Spain Cup, Paragon beating “Woodbrook Glamour Boys” Malvern in the final.

The high point in Figgy’s career may well have been playing in-between the uprights against Brazil’s Santos at a Queen’s Park Oval that was crammed to the rafters in 1972. Cummings and Warren Archibald were in the team but it was the late Russell Tesheira who was assigned the unenviable task of marking Pele.

Almost inevitably, the great man somehow eluded his “shadow” and, in an instant, flicked the ball over Figeroux for the only goal of the contest, the pitch invasion that immediately followed bringing an unfortunate end to the exhibition affair.

Figeroux eventually lost his place as the country’s number one custodian, playing second fiddle to Malvern ‘keeper Kelvin Barclay during the ill-fated World Cup qualifying tournament in Haiti, 1973 where, despite Trinidad and Tobago being cheated out of a berth in West Germany 1974, Barclay was named goalkeeper of the tournament and Gally was MVP.

Fanfare or no, however, Gerald Figeroux ought not to be forgotten for the part he played in this country’s proud football history.

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