COLLIN Samuel is sitting in the boardroom at Brockville talking about how he wants to emulate two of his compatriots. Back in Trinidad & Tobago they adore Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy. He would love to earn the same adulation, but perhaps not the pair's reputation for extra-curricular activities.
"Trinidadians love to party a lot," he explained with a knowing smile. Owen Coyle will vouch for that. Samuel is popular with his teammates; his entry into the dressing-room typically signalled by a few verses of an R&B or reggae classic.
But the joint manager of Falkirk believes the 21-year-old currently earning rave reviews in the First Division is sensible enough to keep his name in the headlines for all the right reasons. "Sammy has come to this country and adapted well. And he is level- headed enough to know he has to look after himself off the park. He needs to get out like everybody else, but he does it sensibly. It is a different way of life and some people want to sample it to excess. That is up to the individual, but Sammy knows he has the attributes to play at the top level."
Samuel made a name for himself in the third round of the Scottish Cup when his first-half hat-trick sank Hearts without trace. A week training with Everton followed; Gerard Houllier is said to have requested a video of the game and one unnamed SPL club was supposed to be preparing a bid. But the transfer window closed and the West Indian stayed at Brockville. No-one, though, expects him to stay on beyond the summer. Frightening pace, power to match and 11 goals in his last eight games have made him, according to Coyle, "a tremendous asset to the club".
Valuable assets have a habit of being sold to those with bigger cheque books.
On Saturday potential summer suitors may have one eye on Recreation Park. Falkirk travel to Alloa in the Scottish Cup and the First Division leaders are clear favourites to book a place in the quarter finals. Samuel has good memories of the ground.
He scored his first two goals of the season there in August when he came on as a second-half substitute. Falkirk won 6-1. It was a performance and scoreline which doesn't bode well for Terry Christie's side.
Samuel's story starts long before he opened his account in Clackmannanshire. Two summers ago the Bairns reserve team coach Tony Docherty spotted Samuel in action in Trinidad. He wasn't the only one watching. Newcastle have a full-time scout based in Port of Spain and he recommended that Bobby Robson take a look at the teenage striker.
"The talk was that Newcastle had their eyes on me," recalled Samuel, "but I didn't take it that seriously. I just kept playing as normal and waited to see what would happen in the end."
Work permit problems ultimately stymied a move to Falkirk that summer, but once Samuel had established himself in the Trinidad and Tobago side, having scored a hat-trick on his debut, that block was removed and he signed a two-year deal under Ian McCall.
The manager has now moved up a division with Dundee United, but Coyle and John Hughes, who have taken over as joint player-managers, have no doubt Samuel is equipped to also take his game to a higher level.
Coyle provides particular insight, having played in the Premiership himself and now finding himself occupying a deeper lying role behind the Falkirk strike-force of Samuel and Lee Miller.
"Everyone who has seen him knew he had the talent, but it was raw. Now it is being honed and he is getting better all the time," said the 36-year-old. "He has the speed everyone is looking for, he is a powerful boy, and now he has added that finishing touch to his game. These are attributes that are very hard to find, especially in someone so young. How far he goes in the game is entirely up to him."
Samuel believes he can go all the way. Falkirk hope to capitalise in the short term, while banking on his stock continuing to rise.