In the midst of Russell Latapy’s statement on his decision not to return to the National Team, the rest of the ‘Warriors’ contingent were busy getting on with their training under head coach Leo Beenhakker in a two-hour training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.
Latapy issued a statement on Monday morning, turning down the invitation, citing that he would return as an assistant coach/player but not as a player only as was the last request from Beenhakker.
The Dutch-born coach is currently working with a squad of 17 home-based players and has invited 23 overseas pros for further preparations ahead of the June 4 World Cup qualifier against Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
On Tuesday, T&T faces North East Stars in a training match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 5:30 pm and on May 18 they will take on Peru Club champions Alianza Lima at the same venue and time.
“The preparations continue go on and the spirit has been very good in the camp. The guys have responded well and this is a good sign because we are going out to ensure that there is a positive feeling among everyone,” Beenhakker said. “We are working on various areas to ensure the team’s readiness for the key matches coming up and every opportunity is important between now and matchday.”
Some of the overseas pros are expected to begin flying in from this week with English-born recruit Chris Birchall, fresh from copping the Port Vale Young “Player of the Year” award and Clayton Ince coming in on Tuesday while Carlos Edwards and Brent Rahim are due in a few days later. Others such as Leslie Fitzpatrick and Silvio Spann are also expected to arrive soon.
Latapy held a discussion with Beenhakker last month via telephone but seemed to have decided against returning as a player.
“I am of the view that I can make a significant difference to the team on the field, while sharing the glory with the Trinidad public. However, the role and responsibility as Assistant Coach/Player as initially conceptualized, discussed and agreed is no longer on the table, and what is now being requested of me, that is, to be a player only is inconsistent with my career goals and vision. In view of this change, I'm will therefore respectfully declining to the opportunity to be a player only, as this is inconsistent with my career, and I will now move forward seeking new opportunities, and challenges in my life,” the Falkirk player stated.
“I will continue to lend my spirit to the team, and wish them well in their journey to Germany.”