Tributes pour in for slain former Reggae Boy Irvino English

Tributes pour in for slain former Reggae Boy Irvino English

By Howard Walker
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 28, 2020

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The death of former Reggae Boy Irvino English has hit home hard among the football fraternity, especially at Waterhouse Football Club where he was considered a legend.

The 42-year-old English was gunned down near his house in the war-torn Waterhouse community on Wednesday night. He lived at Ashoka Road and was, for years, the neighbour of Olympics 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Fraser-Pryce, who still has family members living there, appealed for peace on Facebook.

“As a product of Waterhouse I am personally appealing for peace and respect for life. Crime and violence is a choice. Condolences to the family. Footballer, fellow Wolmerian, and Waterhouse community member. May he RIP,” said Fraser-Pryce.

The talented footballer who led Waterhouse Football Club to two National Premier League titles in 1998 and 2006, played five times for Jamaica.

English who also won the Manning Cup with Norman Manley High School in 1996 was the current Assistant Coach at Arnett Gardens and Wolmer's Boys' School.

Alex Thomas, who sought the services of English as his assistant at both Wolmer's Boys' School and again when he was appointed at Arnett Gardens Football Club, was lost for words when contacted by the Jamaica Observer.

“I feel sick. I can't talk,” said a hoarse-sounding Thomas. English was his right hand in almost every football decision that he made. They had a special trust and bond; Thomas was devastated.

Former Waterhouse FC President Ricky Chin said it's painful when he hears about the number of lives that are being lost to criminals and gun violence and it is even worse when it is somebody he knows.

“Somebody who you had a relationship with and have spent time with the person talking about various things to do with the sport of football. Someone who is tough, passionate. Very few persons I know loved Waterhouse football club as much as English did,” Chin said.

“There are times when we lose a game and he would reach out to you from New York to find out what is really happening. That's the sort of blind loyalty that he had for the club,” he added.

Paul Christie, the current manager of Dunbeholden FC, played with English in 1995 at Waterhouse when they won the Kingston And St Andrew Football Association Major League and got promoted to the premier league. He remembers him as the best player ever produced by Waterhouse.

“I have never seen another player that exhibits the type of passion and commitment and love for the game,” said Christie, who was a goalkeeper at Waterhouse.

“I remembered Waterhouse playing Portmore and the Sunday was the funeral for his brother and after he scored he fell to the ground and was crying and crying. But what stood out was the fact that he went to the funeral and came and did his job as a footballer and that resonated in my mind for such a long time,” Christie explained.

“I have played with many players, but Irvino English is my number one all time Waterhouse player because of his passion, and whenever he goes on the field he leaves everything out there,” he added.

The talented English, who had an educated left foot, played mostly at left back or at left midfield. He last played for Jamaica in 2002.

President of the Jamaica Football Federation Michael Ricketts said they are sadden by the untimely and tragic passing of English.

“He would have been one of those players that represented Jamaica in the Simoes era. I became close to Irvino some years ago when he was a part of a delegation that Simoes had taken to Brazil for a training camp and from then we maintained a relationship,” said Ricketts.

“He was very professional and had a big heart and when he was on the field he really represented well. On behalf of the football federation we offer our sincerest condolences to the immediate family members and close friends. We are committed to giving whatever support we can of course to the family as they mourn his passing,” he noted.

The Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) in a statement said English was a giant in his time.

“A veritable icon of the nation's top sport. He represented and provided yeoman service at Waterhouse FC over many years. Irvino was loved and admired by teammates and opponents alike. Was not a so gentle giant on the field but a gentleman everywhere else,” said the PLCA statement.

Meanwhile on Facebook, one fan wrote: “In other countries legends live and die by accident or natural causes, how the hell can we murder our club captain in his own community, in his backyard, in his comfort zone, the place where he should be protected, the place where he should be safe.”


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