To hell and back

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Reggae Boy Errol Stevens, who now plays for Hai Phong FC in farflung Vietnam, wants to use his early struggles as a source of motivation for aspiring Jamaican footballers.
The 30-year-old striker who last played for Jamaica in 2012 posted a video on Facebook highlighting his difficulties in securing a contract in Thailand, where he was subjected to unpleasant circumstances, which included living a cramped apartment with no furniture or appliances.
“In 2013 I got a link with an agent and went to Thailand. The agent promised a sure contract, as they always promise. So when I reached we (Dicoy Williams) didn’t have anywhere to stay. When I left Jamaica I don’t have a dollar in my pocket, or maybe around US$50,” Stevens revealed in his video.
He continued: “The man (agent) send we go four or five teams in the space of two weeks and Thailand big. Me and Dicoy drive from one city to the other for about five hours.”
Stevens said when Williams and himself reached the club, the coaching staff was not expecting them and thought they were stowaway Africans.
“So at the same time the transfer market a close down and we never get no team. But we ended up training with a little one team and Ding (Williams) never got to train because the man say is just a striker him want,” he noted.
The former Portmore United, Harbour View and Arnett Gardens striker said if it wasn’t for a video he made of himself while playing for Jamaica, he wouldn’t have got the chance to train.
“I just finished playing with Jamaica in 2012, so I did make a little YouTube video and a that make me even get on the field. I showed the man (boss) and he saw that it was the same person. So he told the coach to put me in for 20 minutes. We ended up winning the match 6-2 and I scored two and set two. So when that finished we just leave and go back where the man have we a stay,” said Stevens.
Being frustrated with all the travelling and no trial, Williams said he was heading back to Jamaica. But not Stevens, as he was determined to see it out despite the adverse conditions.
“So Dicoy said he was going home because it was a joke thing and a waste a time. But I was thinking the same thing. But I said, ‘Ding, I don’t have anything to go home to. I am broke like dog. Nothing. So me not going home until I get something,” he pointed out.
Stevens, who had a short stint in Russia FC Khimki in 2009, was sent on another trial at another club.
“But the team that I went to before called the agent and said bring the ‘baller come’; we want to sign him. So I ended up there and signed for around US$2,000. I couldn’t do any better. If they did tell me US$1,000 I would take it,” said a desperate Stevens.
The powerful striker, who is known for his pace and trickery, signed for Saraburi FC in Thailand, which is over 10,000 miles from Jamaica. In addition to that, he was faced with a foreign language and an alien culture.
“The man carry me go a little apartment — is only a mat on the ground. An empty room with a mat that you brush off you foot on,” Stevens emphasised.
“In my mind I was saying the situation grim and I could walk leave it. But at the end of the day, I said nothing not at yard (Jamaica),” he noted.
“But I said I born at Portmore Lane, and up to when I was eight years old a pit toilet we were using. So I said this is the least,” he added.
“The house that I was in I have to be paying rent for it and it has nothing in it, and I have to find food and everything same way. I have to find travelling to go training. So literally when they pay me at month time, all the money spend back in the country. It was five bills US (US$500) I could save after six months. I scored six goals in 14 matches in that six months. They gave me a next contract with just five bills more. So I ended getting US$2,500 (about $300,000) and I couldn’t turn it down,” said Stevens.
He ended with 16 goals in 40 games after he was snapped up by Vietnamese club Hai Phong in 2014, and to date he has banged in 24 goals from 49 games.
Married to a Russian he met in Thailand, and only recently welcoming a baby son to his family, Stevens is enjoying his time in Asia. He’s also enjoying his time on the pitch as well, where he has formed a lethal partnership with former Harbour View player Andre Fagan.
“So I am just showing people that from there until now I don’t go back at Jamaica. I ended coming to Vietnam, much, much better situation, and as you can see my life dramatically changed. I am just showing that sometimes you have to put your pride aside and no matter how small you have to start, is a start,” said Stevens.
“My story is nothing great, but I can take care of my family and make life better,” he added.

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