Thirty-nine and midway to his 40th birthday but Central FC’s Marvin Oliver is still having the time of his life on the field of play.
Oliver, the 2007 Toyota/TT Pro League Player of the Year, topped every player in the first half of the Digicel Pro League 2014-2015 season to win the Wendy's Player of the Month awards for October/November and December, while teammate Willis Plaza picked up the most recent award for January as league leaders Central FC completed a hat-trick of the individual accolade.
“It’s an honour to win the award twice this season,” said Oliver, a San Juan native. “But it's a team sport and everyone at my club contributed.”
Oliver doesn't possess the speed of Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, or the power of the Welshman’s club-mate, Christiano Ronaldo, or even the athletic physique of England based Trinidadian footballer Kenwyne Jones. But the Central FC player’s class is superior to that of many, if not all at present, in Trinidad and Tobago, even well beyond the usual retirement age of most footballers around the world.
Crafty and intelligent, with the ability to control the game and even score goals, Oliver was influential in Central defending the First Citizens Cup and led the scoring in the early stage of the DPL, while helping the “Couva Sharks” climb to the summit of the standings – a position the Zoran Vranes coached-side continue to occupy.
And he has done it all playing in the centre of defence, making a smooth transition from the midfield position he mastered over years. Oliver said he “love and enjoy” his new position as some of his football heroes include Germany’s Lothar Mattaus and Franz Beckenbauer, who both played midfield then sweeper, and Italian Franco Baresi.
“People go on and on about the about the scientific gauge, measuring how many miles a player covers and their speed and so on,” continued Oliver. “But that's for cars [chuckles].
“I look at it from the perspective on how well I take care of my body. It's also not just about trying to prepare for games. But it's about preparing for practice as well. When you do the right things, good things will follow you,” said the former standout of the United States lower leagues, and Trinidadian clubs Crab Connection, North East Stars, Caledonia AIA and San Juan Jabloteh.
Oliver – no stranger to the highs and extreme lows of life – said the time would come for younger players once they stay committed and work harder every day. However the father-of-five, who will celebrate his 40th birthday on August 15, warned, “But I'm not ready to stop now. It's like the longer the wine the sweeter it will be.
“I even feel fitter and stronger and it's great to still be able to compete at the top level. I'm having fun. It's not about the money which isn't that good compared to other jobs. But it's my lifestyle on and off the field. It's all I have. I’m either at training or home watching (televised) football most of the time.”
Oliver, who previously occupied player/coach roles as Jabloteh and Central, hopes to begin pursuing coaching badges this year to prepare for life after his playing career and to continue being involved in what he loves the most – football.
Meanwhile Plaza, the 27-year-old T&T international forward far younger than Oliver, returned to action with Central in the January window and was most influential during the month.
Plaza’s five goals in November kept Central perfect to atop the standings and even win the inaugural Rawle Fletcher (Round One) Trophy.
At present, Central also lead the standings for the Akeem Adams (Round Two) Trophy, as the three-year-old club hunts its first Pro League title after finishing runners-up to rivals W Connection last season.
But while the DPL title is high on the agenda, Oliver said, “Qualifying for [next season’s] CONCACAF Champions League is the main goal because it will be tremendous for Trinidad and Tobago by opening up the doors for players and to lift the country. We also want to win the Caribbean Club Championship [which is scheduled to begin in March and is the qualifying tournament of the CCL].”