When England line up against Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday, they will be taking on a side with a strong connection to Sunderland.

Yesterday, Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson investigated Carlos Edwards' background and today he looks at Kenwyne Jones' early years and finds stark parallels between the striker's upbringing and that of his Black Cats team-mate.

IF CARLOS Edwards' transfer to Wrexham was a cause of considerable celebration at his school, St Anthony's College, an even greater success was just around the corner. Just as Edwards was leaving, so another future Premier League player was arriving through the entrance gates. And in years to come, this one would be even more sought-after than his predecessor.

"Kenwyne (Jones) was one of those boys that just had it," said Nigel Grosvenor, who had been Edwards' tutor throughout his years at St Anthony's. "He was humble and laid-back, pretty much like he is now to be honest, but he had this air about him from the very start that seemed to say, I'm going to make it'.

"He was always very tall for a young boy so, because of his size and stature, we tended to play him in defence. He never complained, but it was clear that he wanted to play as a striker. Maybe that's because he saw himself as following in the footsteps of his uncle."

Unlike Edwards, Jones came from a footballing family. His uncle, Philbert, was a striker for the Trinidad & Tobago team that came within a point of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup finals, while his father, Pamphille, also played semiprofessionally in the Trinbagonian leagues.

But while his background had more of a sporting bent than Edwards', it was no less austere.

Like his future Sunderland team-mate, Jones, born some 20- or-so miles away from Edwards at Point Fortin, experienced hardship at an early age. His mother, Lydia, would spend sixmonth spells working as a cleaner in the United States while Jones and his brother, Kerwin, lived with their father in Trinidad.

"There were times when it was hard, but I would not have swapped my childhood for anything," said Jones. "There was a big group of us that used to hang around together as children, and we were always doing something.

"We'd do athletics, racing in the street, play cricket in the car park and sometimes play basketball as well. But it was always the football that was the most exciting. We all lived in the same area, but there were different sections, so we would play in our own little gangs and make competitions. The facilities were not the best, but it was a nice way to grow up and I loved it."

Jones had already developed a reputation as a talented footballer when he arrived at St Anthony's, and it did not take long for his ability to become clear. His height and strength meant he played with boys more than two years older than himself, yet he was still able to justify his place in a St Anthony's side that would lift the same Inter- College Championship Edwards had claimed some six years earlier, and win the Secondary Schools Football League's Player of the Year award in both 2001 and 2002.

School sport in Trinidad commands the same respect as college sport in the United States, and hundreds of spectators would flock to watch St Anthony's as they swept all before them. Most were there to watch Jones, but it wasn't just his footballing ability that was commanding their attention.

"It got to the stage where even the opposition supporters were wanting Kenwyne to score because they were desperate to see him do his somersaults,"

said Grosvenor. "It was pretty much the talk of Trinidad for a while.

"I knew his uncle had done them when he played for the national side, but it was still a complete surprise when Kenwyne did all his back-flips for the first time.

"I thought about telling him to stop a few times - I know the principal was terrified he would break his neck - but I think there would have been an outcry if I had put my foot down. And if Roy Keane hasn't been able to get him to stop, what chance would I have had anyway?"

After back-flipping his way through school, Jones signed for Joe Public, one of the leading sides in Trinidad & Tobago's semi-professional league, before moving to W Connection, arguably the biggest club in the country.

Despite still being a teenager, he was a very big fish in a very small pond, but if he was going to carve out a long-term career in football he was going to have to swim in much deeper waters.

Initially, moving abroad was not a particularly attractive option, but the birth of Jones' first child, Isaiah, to his wife, Avalon, forced an immediate change of heart. For more than three months, the 18-year-old hauled his way across Europe in an attempt to earn a full-time professional contract. For more than three months, he was politely told his trial had been unsuccessful.

"It was a really difficult experience," said Jones. "W Connection put me in touch with Glasgow Rangers and Southampton, and I had trials with Manchester United and West Ham and went over to Holland.

"It was hard because I'd just had my son and it was a case of make it or join the army. It was not about just sitting back and hoping something would happen and, if it didn't, just being able to wait around until it did. I had a family to support and it was a case of either, This is it or I go into the services'. I was ready for that life and there were moments when I thought it was going to happen."

At Manchester United, Jones famously posed for a photograph with Roy Keane - the snap is now proudly displayed in his family home in Trinidad - but the beaming smile hid a mounting disappointment, and as the striker returned to his homeland, he was close to giving up on his footballing dream.

"It had been difficult for us,"

said Jerol Forbes, a member of the current Trinidad & Tobago national side and one of two youngsters who accompanied Jones on his journey to Old Trafford. "We all went over to Europe with dreams of making it straight away, and when we came back, it was hard to pick ourselves up again and believe it still might happen.

"But Kenwyne was always different. He was just so driven and so focused that you always kind of knew he would make it. He wasn't going to take no for an answer, even at that stage, and it was impossible not to admire his determination."

That determination stemmed from an innate confidence in his own ability, but also confirmed the continued importance of Grosvenor, a figure who had become less of a teacher and more of a father figure.

Jones would regularly meet his former tutor to examine possible openings overseas, and Grosvenor would consistently push his former pupil's claims to a range of exiled Trinidadians who included Edwards and fellow Trinidad & Tobago international Dennis Lawrence.

The pair's persistence was rewarded when Jones was offered a trial at Southampton in 2004, an arrangement that quickly led to a two-year deal on the south coast. He made his Saints debut against Liverpool in January 2005, but would also spend time on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke before cementing a place in Southampton's first team.

"Back then, I thought he had everything," said Harry Redknapp, the manager at St Mary's at the time. "But I also wondered if he lacked the desire to be a really top player.

Roy has got that out of him, and that seems to have made all the difference."

Having made a £6m move to Sunderland last August, Jones can now claim to be one of the most highly-rated strikers in the Premier League. But back in his native Trinidad, he remains the Point Fortin boy made good.

"It would be easy for Kenwyne to be big-headed," said Grosvenor. "But he's still the same polite, friendly boy that came through our doors all those years ago. The same is true of Carlos and if you talk to anyone who's worked with the pair of them, I think that's what pleases people the most.

"Whenever we switch on the television and see them doing their stuff for Sunderland, we're proud to think we helped make them into who they are today. They're well liked in Sunderland, but they'll always be bigger heroes to all of us."

Today's article is the second of a three-part series from Trinidad & Tobago.

Tomorrow, Scott Wilson looks as the Caribbean nation's growing connections to Sunderland.

With three T&T internationals in their ranks, are the Black Cats transforming the sporting outlook of a country that had previously been associated with cricket?