CLYDE LEON departed from us in the same humble fashion as he lived.
Yesterday’s sending off for the former Trinidad and Tobago national senior team captain was low-keyed and restricted to a few family members at the Heaven Pathway Funeral Home, San Fernando—the numbers limited due to Covid-19 protocols which prevented a large gathering.
Hailing from Enterprise, Chaguanas, Leon, aka Frank, aka, “The Truth”, was remembered as humble, soft-spoken, but one who loved to talk and also a positive influence on those who met him.
He was a footballer, coach and businessman, developing his brand “The Truth”, along with business partner, radio deejay/soca artiste Ding Dong, who has made a musical tribute to his friend.
Even though unable to be present at his sending off, many of those who knew Leon made tributes online.
His former teammate and Saudi Arabia-based current T&T men’s national team captain Khaleem Hyland wrote: “Rip Frank, your words will always be with us, so much good things we can say about you bro. Legend”.
W Connection Football Club CEO Renee John-Williams was very close to Leon at the club where he spent 15 years as player, captain and assistant coach. She said: “Rest in eternal peace Clyde”.
Former Princess Town Senior Comprehensive teammate Dean Logan said: “Rest easy my brother Clyde aka Frank, aka The Truth.”
There were many other tributes from friends and relatives, all with the common sentiment that Clyde Leon will not be forgotten by them.
There were also video presentations made by his former teammate and T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and current Barbados national team coach Russell Latapy, who installed Leon as T&T captain, when he was national team boss between 2009-2011.
“Clyde was my skipper in the national team and the reason for that was the quality he showed as a footballer,” Latapy recalled.
“He was strong, he was very intelligent and he was technically a good player, which he did not get enough credit for.”
W Connection head coach Earl “Ball Hog” Jean was feature speaker at Leon’s funeral service. Jean remembered Leon for his comical nature and being a gentleman and family man and great admirer of former W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier
“We spoke late hours, at length, and it would be about three things; football, Stuarty (Charles-Fevrier) and the love of his life, Olivia.”
Jean said he got to know many members of Leon’s close-knit Enterprise family, who all lived near each other.
Jean said Leon’s aunt Val came to all his W Connection matches; his mother Sherry-Ann was very dedicated; and Leon also loved his sister La Toya who died five years earlier. Although no longer living in the community, Leon made sure that his son Khaleem was a regular visitor to Enterprise and his family there.
Jean remembered being hesitant the first time Leon invited him to the troubled Enterprise community, which often makes the news for crime and murders.
“You will be okay. I have your back. That is my people,” Jean recalled Leon saying. After that they both regularly visited the hot spot.
Jean also recalled that Leon was a key member of the W Connection team that competed equally with Mexican and United States clubs at CONCACAF level.
Leon played 230 matches for W Connection and scored 90 goals from a deep-lying midfield position, before heart issues prematurely ended his playing career.
He won two Caribbean Club and two T&T Pro League crowns among 16 titles won for W Connection before retiring during the 2011-2012 season following a one-year stint in Colombia.
“Clyde went on to win so many titles with myself and the formidable W Connection which we built, starring in midfield with the likes of Reynold Carrington, Elijah Joseph, Titus Elva, Gefferson Goulart from Brazil, Silvio Spann, Travais Mulrain, Andre Toussaint,” Jean said.
Leon was passionate about T&T and cherished having worn the captain’s armband for his country.
“His last game was played in Tobago, November 6, 2012. He always also maintained a high standard of play for his country and never failed to remind me of his enjoyment of playing with his fellow teammates, such as Densil Theobald, Silvio Spann, Cornell Glenn, Marvin Phillips, Trent Noel, Dwight Yorke, many others.
“He kept in touch with everyone at his alma mater. Princes Town was forever in his heart,” Jean said.
Restricted from attending his funeral, Leon was still serenaded by members of the Tropical Angel Harps steel band from Enterprise which he loved, and on a rainy day many members of the community came out to see him to his final rest when buried at the public cemetery.
And if in another place and another life somewhere, W Connection could assemble a good side, they already have three big players available—Atiba McKnight, Shahdon Winchester and now Clyde Leon, all gone too soon.