They came out in their hoards to see the legend that is Romario. And the little Brazilian didn’t disappoint.
From the moment he stepped out of a helicopter with Cayman’s own legend, Lee Ramoon, you knew the evening was going to be special.
A couple of thousand packed into the Truman Bodden Complex on Sunday night to see past and present Cayman national players against Romario’s World All Stars side comprising of mainly Jamaicans, Brazilians, Hondurans and Cayman ex-pats.
Kitted out in Cayman’s national colours of red and blue as he jumped out of the chopper, Romario played in that uniform for the first 10 minutes before reverting to the All Stars total white kit for the remainder. CLICO were the main sponsors. It was refereed by Alfredo Whittaker.
Actually Pele played in the All Stars, only this was the Jamaican version, Kevin ‘Pele’ Wilson. Another big All Star player was the Honduran Tyson Nunez.
Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore scored for the All Stars in the opening minutes, Cayman’s Eric Brown equalised early in the second half and then a penalty was awarded to the All Stars. There was only one man who could take it.
Up stepped Romario to knock in yet another goal. He is only the second player in history after Pele to score 1,000 goals in competitive matches. Whether this one officially counted doesn’t matter, the fans were treated to a magical moment which they can talk about for years to come.
This was the culmination of a series of events centred around Romario to help raise funds for the Centre of Excellence in Prospect. It was also to honour Ramoon for his 25 years of unstinting contribution to Cayman Islands football.
Organised by Jeffrey Webb, the president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, Romario’s visit not only raised considerable funds in the auction of football memorabilia at the Ritz-Carlton on Friday night, it also raised Cayman football’s profile. This event resonated around the world.
Cayman coach Thiago Cunha, who was instrumental in getting Romario over here, through his Brazilian links, said: ‘Romario said it has been a great pleasure coming here. Cayman is beautiful and the people have been so warm and friendly.
‘Romario was also very surprised at how well organised football is here. He thought there would be just a men’s senior team and was pleasantly surprised that there is also a boy’s Under-15 and U-20 and a girl’s U-17. For an island of only 50,000 people he finds that amazing.’