Former outstanding national centre-back Erskine ‘Reds’ Smith says the selection of Russell ‘Little Magician’ Latapy as head coach of the senior Barbados men’s team is a good one for the country.
Smith sang the praises of Latapy saying the former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder was the best Caribbean player he has ever played against during his career.
“I played against Dwight Yorke, but I would have to say he (Latapy) is the best player I’ve played against. Mexico, which I played against, also had some decent players but Latapy was it. So with the level of football that he played and the credentials that he has, I don’t see why he can’t get the job done especially with the right people around him. I know he can get the guys more technically correct but only time will tell,” Smith said.
The former defender recalled that in 1986 when Barbados faced hosts Trinidad and Tobago in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) final under the captaincy of Terry Sealy and coach Adrian Donovan, Latapy was the best player in that tournament.
Even though Latapy has received a stamp of approval since taking up the role as head coach last year, Smith said if the history of Barbados’ football is closely reviewed, one would realise that during the last 20 years, the senior men’s team under the leadership of local coach Horace ‘Tobacco’ Beckles had done well.
He further expressed disappointment that Beckles hardly gets due credit, particularly for the Barbados team reaching the semifinal round of the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers. It was a historic occasion when Barbados registered a thrilling 2-1 victory against Costa Rica.
“Since I came to Britain I think he (Beckles) has done the best job in terms of getting the team to the World Cup. The team went to the United States and did really well and then I didn’t hear anything about them. Then we keep on bringing former players (to coach) because they are popular,” Smith said.
Uncertain about how long he intends to remain in England where he has resided for the past 20 years, the once gifted defender and now qualified coach is hoping to put himself in a position to coach in Barbados someday soon. In fact, as recent as last November he was on the island coaching the St. Andrew Lions during the pre-season.
A certified level one and two coach, Smith was in the process of doing his Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) B licence when the Coronavirus pandemic appeared and said he was hoping that everything goes back to normal so he can complete that particular accreditation by 2021.
“I know I will put myself in a position to coach my country. I started from scratch coaching under-10, 13 and won three championships within the last ten years at school level in London. And I had no training facility, I had to use a basketball gym as my training facility and I still won three championships,” Smith said.
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