Latapy to the rescue

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Russel Latapy

A little magic from former national captain Russell Latapy might just what the T&T Soca Warriors need to book a spot in the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa.

The T&T Football Federation (TTFF) believes any form of contribution from the “little magician” either on the field or on the sideline will improve T&T’s chances of making it out of the qualifying stage and in to the Finals.

Latapy will join the Soca Warriors as player/coach for the two upcoming World Cup matches against Guatemala (away) and the United States (home) in October.

He will serve as Francisco Maturana’s assistant and is carded to join the squad in the build up to the matches in Guatemala City on October 11 and at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on October 15.

The former FC Porto midfielder accepted the offer to return to the T&T team following initial talks with the TTFF earlier this month.

There will be a friendly international in early October and on the roster for the upcoming matches will be midfielder Chris Birchall of Conventry and Swansea’s Dennis Lawrence. Also available is Sunderland midfielder Dwight Yorke for the upcoming qualifying matches.

“We are pleased to have Latapy on board with us for the next two qualifying matches in the first instance,” TTFF Special Advisor Jack Warner said. “The two matches against Guatemala and USA are of utmost importance at this stage and we believe that Latapy’s role is an asset to the team and the Federation. We wish to welcome him and look forward to his involvement in our efforts to achieve the desired progress in our football.”

Latapy was delighted to get the call to come back and serve T&T and promises to commit to the cause.

“I’ve always said that I would do whatever might be necessary to help our football and being given the opportunity to come back and give the support is one I would not turn down. I will continue to give my support new role that has been offered to me. I am looking forward to working with everybody involved in the team and the football on a whole and hopefully we can achieve our desired goal.”

Falkirk manager John Hughes also spoke to the Scottish Press about Latapy’s appointment, adding “Russell’s a God over there and I’ll never forget stepping off the plane on tour with Hibs a few years ago and seeing a brass band on the tarmac to greet the wee man coming home.

“He still has work to do here and there’s no better player for our youngsters to learn from. Even if he’s only playing for 20 or 30 minutes these days he can still unlock the door and as soon as he steps off the bench other managers shoot a look to say, ‘Oh no, here he comes’.”

The “Little Magician” was also featured in The Scotsman on the weekend.

“But the flip side is the mercurial talent, the ability to seduce football fans with greater ease than he does the opposite sex. There is the healthy eating and the willingness to train. He is still an important member of the Falkirk side and has once again been recalled by T&T, despite the fact he is now a 40-year-old,” said Hughes.

Latapy, born August 2, 1968, is a midfield player and first team coach for Falkirk in the Scottish Premier League. He has previously played for Hibernian, Glasgow Rangers, Dundee United, FC Porto, Academica and Boavista. He came out of international retirement to play for T&T in the FIFA World Cup in Germany, coming on as a substitute in the second half of the Paraguay versus T&T match.

This year Latapy along with Yorke were voted among the top 50 foreign players to ever play professionally in Britain by popular football publication FourFourTwo.

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, Russell, following the influence of his close pal Yorke and administrator 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.

  • Russell Latapy’s achievements
  • 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 (for April) in 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 SuperLiga winner’s medal with FC Porto in 1995/1996
  • Portuguese SuperLiga 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
©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited