West Ham ‘keeper Shaka Hislop should, without hesitation, go out and purchase his lottery ticket, such is the good fortune he is experiencing. At the start of the season, Hislop was second choice at Upton Park after the East End club signed Roy Carroll from Manchester United while his beloved Trinidad & Tobago were no more than hopeful of World Cup finals qualification. Now one of football’s genuine nice guys has the real prospect of a FA Cup final and World Cup finals berth to look forward to over the next few months.
West Ham have, along with Wigan Athletic, illuminated the Premiership this term. Their mix of talented youngsters and experienced professionals has seen them contest the Champions League/Uefa Cup scramble, and they will play either Middlesborough or Charlton Athletic in a FA Cup semi-final at the end of this month.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Hislop, who has made almost 20 appearances during his unexpected chance for the Hammers due to Carroll’s back injury, should be on Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup plane bound for Germany in June.
Hislop, 37, one of the most affable men in the Premiership, told the Voice of Sport about his fairytale season: “Things have changed quite quickly and quite dramatically for me. I hope I'm not tempting fate, but I'm very happy to be part of a team that's reached the semi-final of the FA Cup.
“To reach a semi-final having played from the third round against Norwich is very rewarding. Roy Carroll was in today, he's doing as well as expected, and is in good spirits, we had a laugh with the lads. I'm sure he'll be back on track, but there's no need for him to be silly about trying to get back - I've told him not to hurry!”
Hislop, who has also played for Reading, Newcastle, Portsmouth added: “My contract is up at the end of the season. I would love a new one. I don't want to be drawing my pension just yet! I've changed my mind about my future. I've enjoyed it very much here, especially this last spell in the team. Of course there's the old cliché that a week is a long time in football, but things are going well. The last few months have seen some dramatic changes not just professionally, but personally, and I'm thinking that I can continue.
“I haven't had any talks with the club, there's no rush on my part. I've never been one to go banging on doors over new contracts.
“I'm not number one in the Trinidad squad, but playing these high profile games gives me a better chance of earning the place. However, Kelvin Jack has been consistently number one under Leo Beenhakker, and he has done absolute wonders for T&T between the sticks. He deserves to keep his place. I feel I'm playing quite well, and at least I will give him something to think about.
“For long periods I believed I was going to retire, and I was making plans, speaking to my wife about it. It's quite a soul-searching time, you've done something you love for so long, and all of a sudden it’s coming to an end, a bit quicker that you'd like. I was trying to be philosophical about it. I was quite accepting of it, so in that respect, things have changed a lot. I was wondering what I was going to do in the next year or two, but now I can defer those things for a year or so. My wife was telling me to carry on playing; she felt I still had a lot to offer.”