Wednesday 10th May, 2006


Magician disappears

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Fact File

Name: Russell Latapy

Position: Midfielder

Date of Birth: August 2, 1968

Place of Birth: Laventille, T&T

Height: 1.69m

Weight: 72.5kg

Club: Falkirk FC

Nickname: Little Magician, Latas, Stompy

Caps: 100+

Clubs/Schools: Dundee United, Glasgow Rangers, Hibernian, Boavista, Porto, Trintoc  Academica de Coimbra, Port Morant United, San Fernando Technical Institute

Football icon Russell Latapy is looking forward to playing under Leo Beenhakker at the 2006 World Cup. But having announced his retirement after the Finals, Latapy is eying a chance of coaching the national team in the future.

He made this clear on the even of his final appearance on home soil in today’s friendly international against Peru.

“I don't think this is the end, but the beginning of something new. And I know the coach is not ready to leave yet, but, hopefully, I can work in another capacity and continue to represent T&T. I'm not pushing him out of the door yet, but I would love to have the opportunity to come back and give something to Trinidad for all the things that Trinidad has given to me,” Latapy told a gathering of local and foreign media and football officials at a breakfast  meeting at the Crowne Plaza on Saturday morning.

The event was organized by TT/Germany 2006 to  allow Latapy to say “farewell” as well as to preview today’s friendly against Peru and launch TT Post stamps in commemoration of T&T’s qualification for Germany.

Beenhakker, who saw Latapy inspire to a T&T come from behind 3-2 win over Guatemala last year, spoke only good about the “Little Magician.”

"Russell is one of the few players of whom every coach dreams. They not only can play good football based on their skills and their talent, but they also understand the game. In this way he was a great support for me and the team. As a coach you can give him the message and he is able to translate the message on the field. He is one of those few players who will bring every team something extra. It was a pleasure to work with him.

“When I accepted this job last year May, we had a very long conversation. I invited him to come over and support the team. He had to think about the actual situation, his future and so on, and preferred to concentrate a little bit more on the coaching part. In other words, he was interested in taking over my chair. I said, hey wait, you have many years to go,” Beenhakker said much to the laugher even from Latapy.

"He prefers to play in the middle, but sometimes I put him a little bit on the side because it's better for the team.

"As everybody knows, it will be his farewell game. I am very happy that a great player like Russell Latapy has the chance to say a final farewell of his international career in Germany. I think that it is really big for every player to do it once in his career."

Latapy said it would be difficult to describe himself as a player but said his days at FC Porto were the best.

“Definitely my time at FC Porto. I was fortunate enough to be the first Trinidadian player to play in the Champions League. I had a fantastic time there under another fantastic coach Bobby Robson and I learned about the game at that time. I think it was then that I grew as a player.”

When asked why he felt that the local public was attracted so much to him, Latapy replied: “Must be the hairstyle, it’s dreads now but it used to be Afro,” sparking more laughter from the onlookers.

And as to how he saw the match ups for T&T in Germany, particularly England.

“I always looked at football as eleven against eleven. I think they have a lot of good players but we are quietly confident in our ability. We have confidence as well in the tactics and football knowledge of our coach. If we play to the best of  our ability and do what he’s asking us to tactically, I think we will be well capable of performing well.”

Could he compare the Soca Warriors to the 1989 Strike Squad.

“That’s difficult. Two completely different teams and different coaches. We didn’t have the experience of international football back then.

“Obviously it was very disappointing in 1989 but now we have been able to bury that ghost and we want to look forward to this occasion. This is the light at the end of our tunnel and we want to focus on that.”

He also confirmed that he is not carrying any injuries and is ready for the Peruvians and the rest of the build up schedule to the World Cup.

A dynamic midfielder and one who excites the crowd, Latapy has a natural gift and is one of the rare things in the game of football, a playmaker and up to this day continues to be one of the most exciting players to watch. 

He has been on the national scene since his days as an Under-10 footballer and has produced many a sparkling performance that has inspired onlookers to dub him "The Little Magician."

He became the first Trinidadian to appear in the European Champions' League during his second season in Portugal with FC Porto.

Following his announced retirement from the National Team in 2001, Latapy, following the influence of his close pal Dwight Yorke and administrator Jack Warner, decided to make one final return to the Team and did so in fine fashion, scoring in T&T’s 3-2 win over Guatemala in World Cup qualifying action in September, 2005.

He is also focusing on the coaching aspect of the game and is current attached as an assistant coach with Falkirk FC.

Scotland's Division 1 winner's medal with Falkirk in 2004/2005

Scotland's Division 1 Player of the Year in 2004/2005

Bell's Cup winner's medal with Falkirk in 2004

Nominated for the BBC Scotland “Off The Ball” Overseas Player of the Year in 2004

Bell's Player of the Month April 2004

Nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2000

T&T Olympic Committee Sports Personality of the Year in 2000

Hibernian's Player of the Year in 1999/2000

Scotland's Division 1 Player of the Year in 1999/2000

Scotland's Division 1 winner's medal with Hibernian in 1999/2000

Hibernian's Player of the Year in 1998/1999

Portuguese Super Cup winner's medal with Boavista in 1996/1997

Cup of Portugal winner's medal with Boavista in 1996/1997

Portuguese Super Liga winner's medal with FC Porto in 1995/1996

Portuguese Super Liga winner's medal with FC Porto in 1994/1995

T&T Chaconia Medal Silver (World Cup Squad) in 1989

Edinburgh Evening News Sports Personality of the Year in 1999

T&T Footballer of the Year in 1996

T&T Humming Bird Medal Gold (for Sport) in 1996

T&T Footballer of the Year in 1989

T&T Footballer of the Year in 1985

T&T Footballer of the Year in 1983

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