Broken nose derails Caledonia striker Jamal Gay

Caledonia AIA striker Jamal Gay

Caledonia AIA striker Jamal Gay is set undergo surgery on Thursday morning at Medical Associates in St. Joseph for nasal fractures suffered during his team’s 1-0 win over San Juan Jabloteh last Friday.

But the effects of the injury are more than a simple hurdle for the overlooked 24-year-old Trinidad and Tobago striker and his Morvant/Laventille club.

Gay, who had a stint in Germany with Rot-Weiss Oberhausen in 2009, was expected to join Finland’s Rovaniemen Palloseura (RoPS) this month but must now focus on surgery and recovery before reconsidering a his return Europe.

“I only just started to improve on my game,” said a disappointed Gay (wheezing repeatedly).

“I didn’t have a great showing in the first half of the (Pro League) season. But I was really working hard on my sharpness and doing a lot of extra work—separate from regular training—with other teammates with the assistance of coach Jamaal Shabazz. Now this (injury) is a setback for me.”

In Gay’s recollection of the incident, which happened around the hour mark at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, the six-feet-four-inches tall striker said, “My teammate won a ball against the Jabloteh left-back and played a cross. I was running towards the first post, but upon judging that the ball wasn’t going to reach me, and goalkeeper Shane Mattis already shouting ‘keeper’, I stopped. And that’s when (Jabloteh defender) Jevon Morris deliberately ran across me and kinked his elbow.

“While the physiotherapist (Dawn-Marie Wickham) attended me to on the field, and blood pouring from my nose, I asked Jevon why he had to do that. He said, ‘Who tell you to run by the keeper?’”

If there was indeed an intentional elbowing, referee Gyasi Mc Donald and his first assistant missed it. Six minutes later Mc Donald flashed a direct red card to Caledonia Densill Theobald, deeming that the midfielder elbowed Jabloteh substitute Neil Mitchell, something Caledonia denies.

His nose broken in two places, a black eye, and cut across his face, Gay added, “I could understand if it was by accident. No one is saying don’t play aggressive, but all of us are trying to better ourselves as players and for greater opportunities.”

Gay, scorer of 4 of Caledonia’s 18 league goals this season, was whisked off by ambulance to the St. James Medical Complex, and then to the Port of Spain General Hospital on Friday night. According to the player, POS General Hospital was only able to facilitate his surgery on Tuesday 11 February, but on the advice of the T&T National Team doctor Dr. Terrence Babwaw, the operation will now be done at an earlier date at Medical Associates in St. Joseph.

“It was a really painful experience, continued Gay, who represented T&T at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt and has 21 caps with the T&T Senior Team. “The swelling around my eye has gone down a lot but literally my nose is shifting to one side. Even the doctor couldn’t believe that the injury came from an elbowing. He even asked if I was kicked in the face.”

“It was deliberate and it’s disturbing to know that some players are coming out to injure other players and their livelihoods,” said an infuriated Caledonia general manager Ricarda Nelson.

Caledonia, now stuck with a medical bill already totaling TT$ 13,200, are fifth on the nine-team Pro League standings, and are also preparing for next month’s Caribbean qualifiers to the Concacaf Champions League.

Caledonia, winners of the 2012 Caribbean Club Championship, are potted in Group 2, to be contested from March 19-26 against hosts Sportiv de Mirebalaif, Jamaica’s Waterhouse FC and Inter Moengotapoe of Suriname.