PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 12:00am

Happy Valley were in a state of mourning yesterday after learning former player Rolston James had been murdered at his Aranjuez apartment in Trinidad and Tobago this week. James, who played for Happy Valley between December 2001 and April this year, was shot twice in the chest in a case classified as homicide. Police said they had no motive as nothing was stolen from his home.

The 27-year-old forward, a former Trinidad and Tobago international who played alongside former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, was playing for Trinidad side W-Connection.

Stunned Happy Valley manager Lim Fong Kee said: 'I was shocked when I heard. Players from the team who played with him last season are also shocked. We heard the news from [striker] Keith Gumbs, who was told by James' team doctor that he had been murdered.'

The news was confirmed by local newspaper reports in Trinidad, who said James had died while undergoing surgery. Reports suggest James had told the gunmen to 'take everything inside'.

James joined Happy Valley last December and made his debut in the club's 0-0 draw in the league with arch-rivals South China on December 21. He scored five goals for Happy Valley, including a brace in Valley's biggest win of the season in a 11-0 league thrashing of Club in March.

'We will observe a moment of silence in our dressing room when we play in the ATV Cup. We cannot ask the other teams for a moment of silence on the pitch because James is no longer a Happy Valley player,' said Lim, who added that his side had 'nothing to lose' when they face South Korean side Anyang LG Cheetahs in tomorrow's ATV Cup at Hong Kong Stadium.

The Cheetahs arrived in the SAR with two World Cup players - midfielder Lee Young-pyo and forward Choi Tae-uk - but Lim insisted his side would give the visitors a 'good fight'. 'On paper, they appear to be a much better side than us, but we have nothing to lose, although we have picked up a few injuries. Martin Jancula [striker] is still recovering from knee ligament problems, while our captain Cheung Sai-ho is nursing a swollen ankle,' added Lim. The other match will feature Chinese giants Dalian Shide and local side South China.