English-born midfielder Chris Birchall is expected back in the country tomorrow (Monday) to resume training with the National Team and is set to receive his Trinidad and Tobago passport over the next 48 hours which will allow him to represent the “Warriors” in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match.
This was revealed by Jack Warner, Special Advisor to the T&T Football Federation at a breakfast meeting hosted by the TTFF at the Dr Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence on Sunday morning.
A host of persons from within the football fraternity, sponsors, media personnel, members of the National Team and other friends of football were present when Warner presented Birchall’s mother Jennifer with her renewed T&T passport which was obtained over the past few days to allow the Port Vale player to receive the necessary documents to be eligible for the June 4 World Cup Qualifier against Panama on June 4. The occasion was arranged to allow an opportunity for mingling among Beenhakker, the players and close followers and supporters of the team. A video presentation with Abba’s “I believe in Angels” playing in the background had all eyes glued to the screens as clippings of the team in action and reactions of fans were highlighted.
“Of all the documents we have had to get for other players, this was the hardest to obtain,” Warner told TTFF Media. “But in the end we are grateful for having received it and we expect that Chris will receive his early this week. This meeting of the football family this morning was an opportunity for everyone to be able to identify with the Journey. We all have a dream as ‘Warriors’ and fittingly the song was about believing in Angels and realizing that dream.”
Birchall’s mother said that her son became aware of a possible chance of playing for T&T this year and she felt it was not an opportunity he could turn down.
“When we got word of this, I said to him that it would be a wonderful opportunity that he could not afford to turn down. To me it was special and I think he knows how much it means to me and now he’s experiencing something that may not have crossed his mind up to recent times,” she said. “It’s been close to 40 years since I have been back and I couldn’t have wanted a better reason to be here again.”
She grew up in Queen’s Park West, Port of Spain and will hopefully return sometime later in the campaign to see Chris in action for T&T. Warner has already promised to have her as guest again in T&T’s final qualifying match against Mexico in October.
Meantime, head coach Leo Beenhakker thanked T&T for the hospitality he and his two assistant coaches have enjoyed so far and paid tribute to his players for their dedicated showing in training dating back to the May 1.
“The boys have shown great ambition and have been very dedicated to the cause so far which is something they must be applauded for. We as the coaches and they the players know what needs to be done and we have set out on the right path to do it,” Beenhakker said.
The former Dutch National Team manager also commented on questions over the ages of a few of his current team members as reporters referred to David Nakhid at 41 and skipper Dwight Yorke at 33 with a few other players also in their late 20s.
“Age is insight. I know people who are 30 or 31 and their playing days are over and I have seen players of 35 years old who are playing like young guys. I can assure you this too because I am an old guy but I feel as young as a little boy,” Beenhakker replied prompting laughs among local media representatives.
Arriving in the country on Sunday was defender Ian Cox, another English-born player and Real Salt Lake midfielder Leslie Fitzpatrick. Fresh from champaigne celebrations as Glasgow Rangers won the Scottish Premier League on Sunday, Marvin Andrews will come in on Tuesday with Dundee duo Brent Sancho and Kelvin Jack.
T&T trains at the Larry Gomes Stadium on Monday morning and Bermuda is expected in on Tuesday for Wednesday’s friendly international at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 6:30pm.