DESPITE spending five of the best years of his career in Falkirk, Russell Latapy will have no qualms about seeing off his old side at Hampden Park.
A member of the Falkirk Hall of Fame, even given his own Russell Latapy Day in November 2008, the former Trinidad and Tobago international was held in high regard by the club.
John Hughes brought Latapy to the club when he took charge in 2003, having played with him at Hibernian. Latapy went on to play a key role in firing the Bairns to promotion in 2005 and sustaining their place in the top flight, before he departed in January 2009.
However, any emotions he and Hughes have for their former side will be put to one side at Hampden. The navy and white colours are not the ones he fights for any more.
“Your allegiances are at one place at one time and that’s who you work for. I have a lot of feelings for Falkirk but we know the colours we’re defending right now and those are the colours of Caley Thistle,” said Latapy.
“Falkirk is a club I have a lot of affinity with and I spent five years of my playing career there. They were five great years. That has the feelings stirring. But being a professional, the job I’m doing and the job I’ve done for the last year-and-a-half is at Inverness.”
Latapy re-joined his former colleague Hughes at Caley Thistle in January 2014 and has not looked back. Just two months into the job and the side was in a League Cup final against Aberdeen. Come the start of the new campaign he was working for a club sitting at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Progress is never to be sniffed at. Over the last three seasons the Caley Jags have steadily pushed themselves forward, and a victory over Falkirk would ultimately crown what has already been their most successful season.
Even though a division and 14 places separate the two sides ahead of their Hampden Park showdown, Latapy believes there is more to connect the two clubs than meets the eye.
“They’ve had a fantastic season and they were really close to the playoffs. Unfortunately it didn’t happen for them,” he said.
“But I suppose the same is true with us in that I’m sure they were looking to have the best season possible; getting high up the division, getting to a cup final and giving themselves the best chance to win it.
“You’ve got the opportunity to get to silverware and at the start of the season that’s the objective of every club in the league. We’re in a final and we can do it.”
This final also represents only the fifth time in the last 17 Scottish Cup finals that one of the Old Firm sides have not been represented. One of those included last year’s win for St Johnstone over Dundee United, which helped fire the Perth side into Europe.
Latapy is sceptical whether it makes the game more appealing to neutrals, but knows exactly what he wants out of the day.
“I would settle for any sort of win,” he said. “We’ve played really decent football throughout the season and got results playing that way. I would like to think we can do that again.
“But in saying that, in a one-off game the most important thing is coming out on top after 90 minutes.
“Finals are always funny games. Sometimes we expect fantastic football but there is always so much pressure, with teams playing to win it, that it’s not necessarily entertaining.
“It’s going to be a very tactical game and hopefully we come out on top.”