By Neto Baptiste
Former national and iconic footballers, George Henry and Mervyn “MR” Richards, have heralded the contributions of recently deceased national goalkeeper and athlete, Wesley Challenger, as priceless and has described their former teammate as someone who was genuine at heart.
Challenger passed away on Sunday afternoon after he had reportedly been ill for some time.
Henry, who revealed he played with Challenger at the Antigua Grammar School (AGS) over 50 years ago before going on to represent the country together, said the goalkeeper brought a level of confidence and professionalism to the role not seen in many others at that time.
“The confidence I had with having him in the goal because once Wesley was in goal I had no fear about somebody beating him on his left side or pushing the ball in the roof of the goal. Wesley actually flew and stopped balls and when he makes those saves he doesn’t drop the balls. He and the ball comes down but that ball stays in his hands,” he said.
Henry, a respected former national defender, described Challenger as a sincere and genuine individual both on and off the field.
“A very sincere and genuine person who never got angry with anybody. He was well liked and he took his job very seriously, Wesley was a very special guy. He was, to me, one of my best friends and I think about even Pin Hewlett who was a mentor to me when I stopped playing for Antigua Grammar School and when I played for the island, Pin was there, Wesley was there and many others,” the former player said.
Meanwhile, Richards, who would have played against Challenger in the latter part of his career, remembered him as just a talented all-round athlete and genuine person.
“Wesley was a very special athlete and he was a little more than ordinary in several disciplines. In football he was one of the best footballers I’ve ever seen. He also represented Antigua in cricket and I don’t know if much people know that and I was made to understand that he was never the same bowler if he bowled in cricket shoes but was an exceptional bowler if he bowled in soft shoes and he was also good at athletics, basketball and table tennis,” he said. President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) Everton Gonsalves, also recently sent condolences to the family and friends of Challenger.