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Russell Latapy
Personal information
Full name Russell Nigel Latapy
Date of birth 2 August 1968 (1968-08-02) (age 41)
Place of birth Port of Spain, Trinidad
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current club Caledonia AIA
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1988 Trintoc
1989–1990 Port Morant United
1990–1994 Académica de Coimbra 127 (32)
1994–1996 Porto 40 (6)
1996–1998 Boavista 40 (1)
1998–2001 Hibernian 84 (22)
2001–2003 Rangers 23 (5)
2003 Dundee United 7 (0)
2003–2009 Falkirk 167 (23)
2009– Caledonia AIA 4 (2)
National team
1988– Trinidad and Tobago 79 (29)
Teams managed
2007–2009 Falkirk (coach)
2009 Trinidad and Tobago (assistant coach)
2009– Trinidad and Tobago
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 06:25, 28 July 2009 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13 August 2009

Russell Nigel Latapy (born 2 August 1968 in Port of Spain) is a former professional Trinidad and Tobago football player. Latapy is now a coach with the Trinidad and Tobago national team, as well as being a player.[1]

Along with Pat Jennings and his friend and compatriot Dwight Yorke, Latapy holds the record for number of participations in different World Cup competitions - six (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010). Although he has not achieved the same degree of international recognition as Yorke, Latapy is touted as a football legend by fans and supporters from Trinidad and Tobago, with some fans considering Latapy to be the greatest footballer ever to play for Trinidad and Tobago.


Early life

Latapy was first noted playing organised football as an Under–10 footballer. Latapy's dedication to football was evident even during this period when he showed single minded dedication to improving the technical aspects of his game. As a youth he played in the Trinidad and Tobago Secondary School's Football League and was called to the national Under-16 and Under-19 football teams.

When he was 19 years old Latapy had an opportunity to attend Florida International University, but he elected to continue with his football career. This decision was supported by his mother despite the fact that in the 1980s very few Trinidadians were noted to have had careers in football that allowed them to earn a decent living.[2]



1990 World Cup qualifying

Latapy's debut for the Trinidad and Tobago senior team was on 30 October 1988 in a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Honduras.[3] The match ended in a goalless draw. Trinidad and Tobago's efforts to secure a spot in the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals saw members of the "Strike Squad", as the national senior team was known, become larger than life celebrities and whipped the twin-island nation into a frenzy of football fueled patriotism.

The exploits of the Strike Squad were often televised and widely watched allowing more people than ever to witness the ball control at pace that represented one of the more distinctive aspects of Latapy's game. Sadly, the qualifying campaign came to an end on 19 November 1989 when, with only a draw required to go to the World Cup finals, Trinidad and Tobago was defeated 1–0 at home by the United States.[4] With his hopes of playing in the World Cup dashed, Latapy quickly realised that in order to ever have a chance making it to finals of football's greatest stage he would have to continue playing competitively.


The aftermath of the World Cup qualification campaign saw Dwight Yorke begin his professional career in England, playing for Aston Villa. Latapy, perhaps a bit less lucky, played in Trinidad and Jamaica before beginning his European club football career with Académica in Portugal in 1990. During his time at Académica, Latapy developed his game under the guidance of coach Victor Manuel, who Latapy credits being one of the coaches he admires the most.[2]

Latapy's performances with Académica saw him recruited by Porto. While playing with Porto, Latapy earned Portuguese Superliga winner's medals for the 1994–95 season and the 1995–96 season. It was also while playing with Porto that Latapy earned the distinction of being the first Trinidadian to play in the UEFA Champions League.[5] Following his time at Porto, Latapy moved to Boavista. He was part of the Boavista team that won both the 1996–97 Cup of Portugal and the 1996–97 Portuguese SuperCup Cândido de Oliveira.


Following his time at Boavista which ended in 1998, Latapy was recruited by Alex McLeish to join the then Scottish First Division outfit, Hibernian. Latapy quickly became a fan favorite at Hibernian and earned numerous awards, including two Hibernian Player of the Year awards and a Scottish Division 1 Player of the Year award. Latapy's performances also assisted Hibernian in winning the 1998–99 Scottish First Division championship.

Despite his contributions to the team, Latapy was sacked from Hibernian early in 2001 after a night that began with Latapy socialising with Dwight Yorke, and ended with him being charged by police for drunk driving. The incident represented a breach of the code of conduct for Hibernian players, who were forbidden to drink for 48 hours before a match.[6][7] It was around this time that Latapy and Yorke both quit international football after being dropped from the stating lineup by then Trinidad and Tobago coach, Renê Simões, after the two players failed to show up for a training session.[8]

Following his dismissal from Hibernian, Latapy was signed by Scottish Premier League club Rangers, who were managed by Dick Advocaat. His career at Rangers, however, did not reflect his success at Hibernian. Latapy rarely started for Rangers and found himself out of favour, particularly after his old Hibernian manager, Alex McLeish, replaced Advocaat as team manager. McLeish then expressed a desire to field younger players, which threatened the place of a then 34 year old Latapy. In addition to his age, Latapy's hard partying tendencies also did little to put him in McLeish's good graces and is also considered a contributing factor to being released by Rangers early in 2003.[7][9] After leaving Rangers, Latapy was quickly signed by another Scottish Premier League club, Dundee United, but his tenure at this club lasted for only a few months and Latapy soon found himself taking time off in Portugal after being released by Dundee United.

Latapy's unsigned status was short lived as Falkirk manager John Hughes, who had been a teammate of Latapy at Hibs, managed to track him down in Portugal and convinced him to accept a contract with Falkirk.[10] Latapy's performances helped the club win the 2004–05 Scottish First Division championship, which promoted Falkirk into the Scottish Premier League.

2006 FIFA World Cup

While Latapy appeared to have found in Falkirk a team that fulfilled his twin desires to play and coach, it seemed that following his dismissal from the Trinidad and Tobago national team in 2001, Latapy would never get a chance to play in a FIFA World Cup finals game after being denied his chance in 1989. Once again, however, fortune intervened in Latapy's favour in the form of a request from representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago national team to return to international football and join the team in its qualification campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Despite having a chance to make up for not making it to the 1990 World Cup, Latapy refused the initial offer to return to international football, citing the demands of his player-coach role at Falkirk, and his rejected request to coach the Trinidad and Tobago team, as reasons for not returning to international football.

It eventually took the personal intervention of Dwight Yorke, who himself had returned to the national team, and FIFA Vice-President Austin "Jack" Warner to get Latapy to return to the national team, now nicknamed the "Soca Warriors".[11] Latapy played his first international game in four years in a World Cup qualifying match in Port of Spain against Guatemala on 3 August 2005. He scored one of the goals that secured a 3–2 victory for Trinidad and Tobago. Latapy then played in five other World Cup qualifying matches and helped Trinidad and Tobago secure its place in the World Cup by beating Bahrain 1–0 in a playoff.

Latapy's training regime prior to Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup campaign consisted of reducing the amount of cigarettes he smoked from forty per day to ten per day. Despite most modern professional footballers frowning upon smoking and its consequences, Latapy says "Smoking is something I choose to do." Latapy was also quite renowned for his World Cup 2006 drinking antics after the goalless draw with Sweden; he was pictured in Trinidad and Tobagan news late night partying with the president of Trinidad. The carnival after the match was a famous one as the country celebrated the moral victory against Sweden.

He spent much of his time in Germany on the bench, however. It was only in Trinidad and Tobago's third World Cup game against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern that Latapy was called upon in the 67th minute, as Trinidad and Tobago's final substitute. Latapy's appearance on the field sent Trinidad and Tobago supporters into a frenzy of cheers. Despite Latapy's presence on the pitch, Trinidad and Tobago lost the match 2–0. Although leaving the tournament after playing for only 23 minutes, Latapy realised a dream that had taken 16 years to be fulfilled.

Post-World Cup

Upon leaving Germany after losing to Paraguay, Latapy and the rest of the Soca Warriors returned to a hero's welcome at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad. In recognition of their achievement in qualifying for the World Cup, each member of the team was awarded Trinidad and Tobago's second highest honour, the Chaconia Medal in gold, and TT$1,000,000.[12]

Latapy continues his career despite being 40, and played for Falkirk in the Scottish Premier League 2008–09 season. In September 2008, Latapy was appointed as the assistant coach of Trinidad & Tobago, and was on the bench as a coach against Cuba, and then returned as a player against Guatemala and the USA. In the USA game, with the Soca Warriors needing a positive result to stay in the running to advance to the fourth and final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, he scored the Soca Warriors' first goal in what eventually became a 2–1 win. They secured their place in the final round on the last matchday of the third round with a 3–0 win in their group finale at home against Cuba, with Latapy again starting.

Latapy was inducted into the 'Falkirk F.C. Hall of Fame' on November 29, 2008. To mark this occasion the club hosted a 'Russell Latapy Day'.[13] Latapy left Falkirk in January 2009 to take up a role with the technical staff of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, hoping to take them to the 2010 World Cup. He has since preferred to step aside and let his younger charges play on the international stage, but is still an active player in his homeland, plying his trade for Caledonia AIA of Trinidad's Professional Football League[14].

Coaching career

Latapy began his coaching career in the 2006–07 season as an assistant to John Hughes at Falkirk, a position he held until he left the club in January 2009. He then became an assistant to Francisco Maturana for the Trinidad and Tobago national football team. After the resignation of Maturana, Latapy became the interim head coach on 9 April 2009.[15]


As of August 2006:


External links


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