MAY PEN, Clarendon — The football fraternity in Clarendon has reacted with shock at the passing of former national player Winston 'Fanna' Griffiths, who died on Sunday night at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
While the cause of death is still uncertain, his mother Pauline Coley, said doctors at the university hospital indicated that his body was poisoned.
Griffiths, 33, a former Glenmuir High daCosta Cup star, represented Jamaica from 1998 to 2002 and up to last season turned out for Humble Lion in the National Premier League.
Humble Lion midfielder Kimroy Davis was amongst four friends, who found Griffiths Saturday night in a section of his Mineral Heights community, and was at a loss for words as he recounted the story to the Observer.
"The condition that he was in when we found him was very terrible," Davis said. "We found him naked on the roadside with a lot of cuts on his body and we just couldn't believe that it was him.
"It was actually two little girls who told us that they saw a madman lying down in the road and when we went we realised it was Fanna.
"He was shivering, saying that he was cold, looked dehydrated and could hardly talk, so we took him home, bought a Gatorade and a cup soup just to try and get him rehydrated," Davis added.
Davis added that while they knew he was sick they never expected it to amount to death. "It really comes as a shock to the entire camp because we never thought it would have ended like this," he said.
Coley was equally alarmed by the news, telling the Observer that she had no idea that her son was ill.
"I heard that he was at a party Friday night drinking and shots were fired, so he ran.
"Nobody knew where he went or heard anything from him until Saturday night when I saw some of his friends bring him by the house. They said they saw him by the highway on a column.
"He was very cold, so I asked him where he was and he said he went to hide in a swamp. I gave him a bath and took him to the hospital and they dressed his wounds and sent him home. But, on Sunday morning he was crying for his belly and started to vomit, so we took him back to the hospital.
"In the night, a doctor came to me and said they will be taking him to the university hospital."
Coley said about 30 minutes after going into a seizure, she got the news that her son had died. "The doctors said that they tried to save his life, but it was too late because his body was already poisoned."
Griffiths, a gifted left-sided midfielder, shot to national prominence in the early 1990s whilst playing for Glenmuir in the rural area daCosta Cup competition.
The former University of Rhode Island player went on to represent the national team at various levels, also accompanying the Reggae Boyz to the 1998 World Cup Finals in France as a part of a special group of players to gain experience.
FIFA referee Kevin Morrison, whose association with Griffiths goes back to 1990, described the former Los Angeles Galaxy, New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps player's death as a great loss to the football family.
"I feel it deeply to my heart," Morrison said of the former Galaxy and Portmore United player. "I know he was sick, but not to this extent. It is really a sad loss to Jamaica's football because he was such a great player."
Meanwhile, Clarendon Football Association president Michael Ricketts, while ruing the loss of one of the parish's brightest football gifts, offered condolences to Griffiths' family and friends.
Ricketts said: "I'm deeply saddened that we have lost such a great talent which was really unfulfilled and I just want to extend, on behalf of the FA, condolences to his family and friends."