Sat, Jul

Russell Latapy says he is “thrilled” over being officially listed in the squad of 24 players selected by Leo Beenhakker to represent T&T at the 2006 World Cup.

But he says that if he is selected for T&T’s friendly international against Peru on May 10, it will be his final match in national colours on home soil.

Latapy, a former national team captain, said Peru will definitely be his last game in front of the T&T public.

“It will be a very emotional appearance because I have had a fantastic time playing for the people of the country and apart from this being a warm-up, I will also want it to be my way of showing my appreciation for all the support over the years.

“This is going to be a special one,” Latapy said.

He has also decided to call it a day on the international stage following T&T’s appearance in Germany.

“Obviously, it was a big step to come back at 37 years, but I am delighted that I made that decision because it turned out well for all of us. I achieved something that I always dreamt of as a kid which was to make a contribution to getting my country to the World Cup.

“After the World Cup, it would definitely be the end as a player.

“I would want to contribute to T&T’s football and if the opportunity to coach the national team became available, I would definitely put myself forward,” Latapy added.

Giving his opinion on the squad of 24 announced on Wednesday by Beenhakker, Latapy, who is player-coach with Falkirk in the Scottish premiership and a former FC Porto player, felt the timing was right and those selected can now start putting things into place for the World Cup.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity. This is what the boys have worked. It’s a big opportunity.”

Latapy said he was anxious up to the late stages over the naming of the squad.

“At this stage you don’t take anything for granted, so any other player who is involved is obviously anxious to know who he (Beenhakker) was going to take to Germany.

“Generally speaking, it’s a dream come true because I have played in five qualifying campaigns and now that we have qualified, you want to make sure that you are going to be there,” Latapy added.

The “Little Magician,” as he is fondly called by fans because of his deft passing and overall skill, had a bit of advice for those who were left out.

“That’s sport. There will still be some who may be disappointed when the starting eleven is named because 23 players are going to the World Cup, that’s the way it goes and you have got to be able to take the bitter with the sweet.

“But looking at the bigger picture, it’s definitely a chance to showcase ourselves to the world.

Latapy will meet the rest of the team on May 7 in Port of Spain for the farewell friendly against Peru, scheduled for a 6:30 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on May 10.

The home-based professionals will play Grenada at the Larry Gomes Stadium on April 25 and at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium on April 27.

Both matches start 7 pm.