Known as the “Gentle Giant” Wendell “Dragga” Manifold, former Guyana national Under-18 captain of the Pele FC, died at Brooklyn Downstate Hospital on March 23, at age 65 from cardiac arrest.
A former student of Charlestown Secondary School, Manifold, a six-footer, left Guyana in 1974 on a football scholarship to Clemson University in South Carolina. He was known as the best defender to wear the national colors well.
The Guyana Chronicle has reported that former teammate Brenthley Babb said Manifold was one of Guyana’s greatest footballing talent, a defensive icon and leader. He mastered every aspect of the defense game and was an imposing and tenacious player with supreme confidence and at times demonstrated the skill and fluidity of central midfielder, reported the publication.
‘Wendell was my first captain at Pele FC and it was a pleasure playing with him as my fullback because he was like a wall in defence. We communicated well and had a fantastic understanding as goalkeeper and sweeper. I would always know when he played the ball back to me without being called out,” said Babb.
“What stands out in my memory of ‘Dragga’ as captain and senior player to the team is his advice along with instructions to younger players on all aspects of the game, which enabled us all to improve and develop to the next level. He definitely molded us, before he migrated to the U.S., into becoming the top football team in the country.”
“His vast knowledge of the game at such an early age was phenomenal. He earned the respect on the pitch everywhere he played and no doubt Guyana has lost a great son of the soil. He will be missed,” said the publication.