National midfielder Russell Latapy has made his feelings known about this country’s historic qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany.
The team’s oldest player at 37 was the first to break down in tears on the pitch seconds after the final whistle blew to signal T&T’s 1-0 win over Bahrain last Wednesday and almost immediately the likes of skipper Dwight Yorke, Marvin Andrews and others broke down. They all embraced each other, head coach Leo Beenhakker and goalscorer Dennis Lawrence too as the T&T faithful at the venue and the rest back home and in other parts of the globe was overcome by the joy of the triumph.
Emotions were higher than ever for Latapy and the “Soca Warriors”.
“Yes definitely it was. It’s a feeling that you cannot describe because this is what we have been dreaming of from the moment we realized what football was about,” Latapy told TTFF Media moments after the victory.
“It’s unbelievable because the older you get as I have, the more you understand things and at 37, having the opportunity to go to the World Cup is something that words cannot really describe.”
Latapy contributed significantly both on and off the field since his return to the team, scoring in the 3-2 win over Guatemala but didn’t see all the action in the playoff with Bahrain. But he commended Beenhakker’s decision to leave him out of the starting eleven last Wednesday.
“It was 90 minutes of do or die and the coach’s decision was fantastic. I’m doing a lot of coaching now and when I looked at things I probably would have made the same decision because we needed to play with two strikers because we had to score and we needed the young legs on the pitch and that decision worked wonders for us,” said Latapy who braved the temptations to return home for the victory parade last Thursday and opted to return to his Scottish home. He is however looking forward to joining T&T with the full team for further receptions.
He also spoke of his gratitude towards Jack Warner and the rest of the Federation, the Local Organising Committee and other people behind the scenes who contributed to making the dream a reality, not forgetting the T&T public at large.
“Without them this achievement would have been a harder one to see today. This is something that we must all feel great about.”
The ex-FC Porto man also remembered the experience of missing out on qualification 16 years ago yesterday (Saturday). Now with reality stepping back in and with the lifetime wait for qualification now over, Latapy is hoping that the second major part of his ambitions will be realized.
“It’s just fantastic for me. But I must say that one of the factors in me making my decision to come back and play with the national team after four years was probably the social state of Trinidad and Tobago with all the violence and killings. I was hoping that if I can come back and make a positive contribution and help up us to get to the World Cup then that would take the focus of a lot of the negative things. Now I have done the first bit which is helping the team to get to the World Cup and I’m hoping that my decision will help the country to realize that we can also accomplish the second feat which is being positive as a nation and I will be happy if that can happen,” he ended.