Trinidad and Tobago head coach Russell Latapy on Friday paid tribute to Sir Bobby Robson following his passing after a battle with cancer at the age of 76.
Latapy played under Robson at FC Porto in Portugal during the 1996-1998 period.
Robson had been in Trinidad in 2000 with Newcastle United and subsequently invited defender Dennis Lawrence for a trial at the Premiership club.
Robson has also played in Trinidad in May, 1955 when he was part of a visiting Engand Football Association team. Some of the local players who lined up against him in the three games at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain and Skinner Park, San Fernando included Pat Gomez and Delbert Charleau.
“I learned a whole lot from Sir Bobby that helped me to develop even further during my career as a player. In my opinion he was one of the top coaches in the world and certainly the best that I’ve ever played under. My condolences goes out to his family, ” Latapy told TTFF Media on Friday morning.
“He had massive influence on my career and is a true legend. He had a mind and an eye for the game that you don't get too often today,” said Latapy, who added that his experience of the former England manager at Porto would have undoubtedly played some part in his turning towards coaching.
Robson had predicted that Latapy would be a hit the Scottish Premier League with Hibernian back in 1999.
At Porto, Robson had a host of international stars including goalkeeper Vitor Baia, midfielder Joao Pinto and defender Carlos Secretario who were all part of Portugal's Euro '96 squad and Brazilian ace Emerson who later moved to Middlesbrough.
But Robson added:"We had a very good team at Porto, quite a large squad and Russell had to fight for his place but I used him quite considerably in the first team. He was a terrific player, very skilful, a good passer of the ball who can use both feet as well as packing a bit of a shot - but I’ll bet the Hibs supporters know that already.
"He's not the best in the air because he's such a small lad but he has a great football brain. Russell would be a good role model for any young player, he loved training and never gave me a moment's trouble." Robson laughed when he heard that many had worried about Latapy's ability to adapt to the Scottish game when he first arrived at Easter Road, given the fact that he stands only 5ft 6in tall.
“He (Latapy) is a very confident boy, a great mentality and he's got the football brain,” Robson added.
The ex-England international and Barcelona boss made a comment once that turned out to be a famous quote in the UK Press when he said: “We used to have Shaka Hislop on our books but I've never heard of Shakira. Is she a singer?" - On learning that the pop diva was staying in the same Barcelona hotel as his players.
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