Taxi driver stories are such a cliché in the West Indies, especially as every individual with a valid driver’s licence has an opinion on the state of the world game. From the IPL effect to the decline of the Windies, taxi drivers expound their theories.
In that light, it was unusual in the extreme to be driven around Barbados by a man who really couldn’t care less about the cricket. “Football’s my game, that’s a sport I enjoy, either playing or watching,” said Dave Alleyne, tuning into different radio stations to catch the score from football matches happening locally and abroad. Press him a bit more, and he volunteers more. “I was captain of the Barbados team, playing in the central midfield, and earned 45 senior caps,” he said.
“I played in youth World Cup qualifiers and also at the u-22 level for Olympic qualifiers.”
But Alleyne quit playing for his country at the age of 26. “There was no water at training sessions, no organisation, and most importantly, there was no insurance or medical benefits for the players,” said Alleyne, who was plagued by ligament and tendon problems through his career.
Alleyne then concentrated on playing professionally, turning out for several clubs in the Scottish League, including Livingstone FC. “I enjoyed in Scotland because it gave me the opportunity to play against quality players,” said Alleyne.
“I’ve played in Europe, in the Americas, north and south, but never quite got to Asia. I would’ve loved to played there.”
Today Alleyene drives a taxi because it allows him to be his own boss, and earn a tidy living. “I can go for a swim in the middle of the day or hit the gym. I need to, because I have to keep the knees in working order.”
Being driven around by Alleyne is an experience because of his genuine popularity on the island. People wave out, yell his name and try and catch his attention. “It’s all because of football. People, especially the girls, know me because I was a player.”
At the end of the day, the torn cruciate ligaments and repeated tendon damage are a small price to pay.