He went from retired star player to player/assistant coach, to Trinidad and Tobago national senior coach. But Russell Latapy's biggest disappointment is not being able to take T&T to their second successive World Cup.
As Latapy pointed out on Wednesday night after Trinidad and Tobago's 1-0 defeat to the USA at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, T&T's last chance to squeeze into a playoff spot and prolong their 2010 South Africa campaign is also very crushing to the players.
"That is the reality that we're dealing with in the dressing room," Latapy told the media, "and it's very difficult for all of the players, especially based on the attitude they displayed tonight."
Officially, the "Little Magician", fondly called "Magic" by some of the players, has two matches left as national coach of Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors. He is, however, expecting the players to put disappointment aside and try to win their remaining clashes, a trip to Costa Rica and a final home fixture against Mexico.
"It's about national pride and it's about football...every single person in that dressing room is a professional player," Latapy remarked. "There are two types of pride. One is national pride, and the other is professional pride.
"So I would expect every player in there every time they put on the jersey to demonstrate that kind of pride and in their personal life as well. So although we're out, we know that every single game we play we're gonna try to win it, and that's what we will continue to do."
Latapy indicated that he was proud of the battling display the national team put on in going down to the US. But he said one of the things the Warriors need to do better is finish.
"I think we need to become more ruthless in terms of finishing games off and we have to take our opportunities. We have to make our dominance into winning performances."
After the final match of the 2010 campaign on October 14, Latapy's contract will end, with uncertainty as to his future role with the national team. But he did indicate his willingness to continue with them and try to build a team for the future.
On the other side, US coach Bob Bradley credited Trinidad and Tobago with a strong performance in what he considered a tough match. But he was happy with full points, his team's first away win of the final CONCACAF round.
"For us it's a very important three points," Bradley noted. "I thought that it was well earned, because tonight was a very difficult game.
"A lot of credit goes to Trinidad. They put great effort out tonight, they made it very hard, but we spoke at half-time and we understood the kind of game that we were in. I thought that we raised the level of the second half, and we're pleased with the win."
Bradley thought fitness was one of the keys to his teams' win, adding that it was T&T's "guts" that made the game a stern contest.
"There was a lot of pride from these players. They showed it tonight, made it a hard game from the start, and they deserve credit...and probably with the same kind of guts in the last two games, they have a chance for more points," he declared.
"This was a strong effort that they can be, I think, quite proud of."
Latapy proud of Soca Warriors.
By: Kevin Sunich (T&T Guardian).
Fans present at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Wednesday evening, would probably have seen the best of the Soca Warriors in their 2010 campaign, despite their going down 0-1 to the USA.
Unfortunately, the small crowd on hand was unable to give the Warriors the extra energy needed to emerge with a winning result.
Yet, the Warriors, who were humbled 4-1 by Honduras on Saturday, played a positive, attacking game which had the group leaders on the back foot for much of the match.
A disappointed coach Russell Latapy accepted that the dream of reaching South Africa was over but he said he was proud of the effort by his players.
“Like in life, in football, there will always be disappointments, but it’s how well you can recover from them. That was the message I left with the team in the dressing room.”
The head coach said he told the players to go out and play their normal game and just have fun, and the only thing missing was the fact that they did not capitilise on their chances.
“We have played a team which is number eleven in the Fifa rankings, and for large parts of the game, we were the better team, and for this I’m proud of the players,” he said. Latapy described the performance as a remarkable turnaround since the Warriors had only been playing well in spurts.
“This match showed that there is great potential in the team.” He noted that although the Warriors would not be going to South Africa, he expected all the players to give their best in the remaining matches.
He said the coaching staff would look for the best players to represent the country and felt some of the young players coming through the ranks might be able to get an opportunity.
Meanwhile USA’s head coach Bob Bradley said it was a well-earned three points, since T&T fought very hard: “A lot of credit goes to Trinidad. I thought that they put a great effort out tonight, they made it very hard. However we regrouped in the second half and were able to pull off the win,” he said.