The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation today announces the appointment of Mr Russell Latapy as Player/Coach of the Trinidad and Tobago Senior Team in the first instance for the two upcoming World Cup Qualifying Matches against Guatemala and United States in October.
The former FC Porto midfielder accepted the offer to return to the T&T team following initial talks with the TTFF earlier this month.
The TTFF at this point can also reveal that the team will play a friendly international in early October. And midfielder Chris Birchall and Dennis Lawrence have been confirmed as members of the squad for the upcoming matches. The TTFF can also confirm the availability of Sunderland midfielder Dwight Yorke for the upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches.
“We are pleased to have Mr Latapy on board with us for the next two qualifying matches in the first instance,” TTFF Special Advisor Jack Warner told TTFF Media. “The two matches against Guatemala and USA are of utmost importance at this stage and we believe that Latapy’s role is an asset to the team and the Federation. We wish to welcome him and look forward to his involvement in our efforts to achieve the desired progress in our football.”
“We can also at this stage confirm the likes of Birchall, Dennis Lawrence and Dwight Yorke in the team for the upcoming matches The full squad, as selected and confirmed by the coaching staff will be revealed this coming week but I can assure you that we will give all attempts to ensure we have the best possible chance of achieving the results to continue our progress in the qualification for South Africa,” Warner added.
Latapy also expressed his feelings on the new call.
“I was delighted to get the call to come back and serve Trinidad and Tobago,” Latapy told TTFF Media on Sunday.
“I’ve always said that I would do whatever might be necessary to help our football and being given the opportunity to come back and give the support is one I would not turn down. I will continue to give my support new role that has been offered to me. I am looking forward to working with everybody involved in the team and the football on a whole and hopefully we can achieve our desired goal.”
“Again I want to thank the Association for presenting this opportunity to me and like I said before, I would never turn down the chance to come and help the people… to help the country through football and I’m looking towards us working together to achieve the success that I believe we are capable of ,” Latapy stated.
Falkirk manager John Hughes also spoke to the Scottish Press about Latapy’s appointment, adding “"Russell's a God over there and I'll never forget stepping off the plane on tour with Hibs a few years ago and seeing a brass band on the tarmac to greet the wee man coming home.
"He still has work to do here and there's no better player for our youngsters to learn from. Even if he's only playing for 20 or 30 minutes these days he can still unlock the door and as soon as he steps off the bench other managers shoot a look to say, 'Oh no, here he comes'."
The “Little Magician” was also featured in The Scotsman on the weekend.
“But the flip side is the mercurial talent, the ability to seduce football fans with greater ease than he does the opposite sex. There is the healthy eating and the willingness to train. He is still an important member of the Falkirk side and has once again been recalled by Trinidad and Tobago, despite the fact he is now a 40-year-old.
"I think that proves I was not as bad as people thought. If I was as bad as some people believe I wouldn't be here. In fact I would probably be dead!” Latapy said.
"I have always liked the way that I chose to live and in some weird way it has kind of justified itself because I am still playing. I'm not saying it's the right way but I think I have always had a balance. I enjoy life but I have always worked hard. I wouldn't still be playing if I didn't."
Latapy , born 2 August 1968, is a midfield player and first team coach for Falkirk in the Scottish Premier League. He has previously played for Hibernian, Glasgow Rangers, Dundee United, FC Porto, Academica and Boavista. He came out of international retirement to play for Trinidad and Tobago in the FIFA World Cup in Germany, coming on as a substitute in the second half of the Paraguay vs. Trinidad and Tobago match.
This year Latapy along with Dwight Yorke were voted among the top 50 foreign players to ever play professionally in Britain by popular football publication FourFourTwo. He became the first Trinidadian to appear in the European Champions' League during his second season in Portugal with FC Porto.
Following his announced retirement from the National Team in 2001, Russell, following the influence of his close pal Dwight Yorke and administrator Jack Warner, decided to make one final return to the Team and did so in fine fashion, scoring in T&T’s 3-2 win over Guatemala in World Cup qualifying action in September, 2005.
Some of Russell’s achievements include:
• Scotland's Division 1 winner's medal with Falkirk in 2004/2005
• Scotland's Division 1 Player of the Year in 2004/2005
• Bell's Cup winner's medal with Falkirk in 2004
• Nominated for the BBC Scotland “Off The Ball” Overseas Player of the Year in 2004
• Bell's Player of the Month (for April) in 2004
• Nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2000
• Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee Sports Personality of the Year in 2000
• Hibernian's Player of the Year in 1999/2000
• Scotland's Division 1 Player of the Year in 1999/2000
• Scotland's Division 1 winner's medal with Hibernian in 1999/2000
• Hibernian's Player of the Year in 1998/1999
• Portuguese Super Cup winner's medal with Boavista in 1996/1997
• Cup of Portugal winner's medal with Boavista in 1996/1997
• Portuguese SuperLiga winner's medal with FC Porto in 1995/1996
• Portuguese SuperLiga winner's medal with FC Porto in 1994/1995
• Trinidad & Tobago Chaconia Medal Silver (World Cup Squad) in 1989
• Edinburgh Evening News Sports Personality of the Year in 1999
• Trinidad & Tobago Footballer of the Year in 1996
• Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Gold (for Sport) in 1996
• Trinidad & Tobago Footballer of the Year in 1989
• Trinidad & Tobago Footballer of the Year in 1985
• Trinidad & Tobago Footballer of the Year in 1983