Yorke, Latapy quit

Lasana Liburd
Date Published: 
Trinidad Express

Declare selves 'mentally unfit'

MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke and national football team captain Russell Latapy yesterday tendered their resignations to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF).

The resignations came just hours after T&TFF technical director, René Simoes, announced that he would not use either player in tomorrow’s all-important World Cup qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval against Jamaica.

In a tumultuous 24-hour span, both players were given the sack by the Brazilian for their failure to join the team in camp at the Emerald Plaza Apartments or any of their training sessions.

Yorke and Latapy then surprised the technical staff by showing up at yesterday’s training session at the Queen’s Park Oval.

An unhappy Simoes was unwilling to reveal the nature of the discussions that passed between himself and the two. However, a reliable source told the Express that the pair declared themselves “mentally unfit” to play on Saturday.

Less than an hour later, though, they announced their retirement in a letter to the T&TFF, citing “personal commitments as well as the increasing and conflicting demands of our clubs, Manchester United and Rangers FC, and the national team”.

The resignations are the latest in a stream of controversy that has dogged the “Soca Warriors” World Cup bid.

Burnley defender Ian Cox and Bristol Rovers midfielder Ronnie Maugé have already declared themselves unavailable for selection.

Former coach Ian Porterfield, assistant manager Neil Mollineaux and assistant coaches Zoran Vranes and Jimmy Blanc were relieved of their respective responsibilities earlier this week.

Having managed just one point from their five qualifying matches to date, Trinidad and Tobago still has a mathematical chance of getting to the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan/Korea.

Simoes will also be without the services of suspended midfielder Brent Rahim and West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, ruled out by an ankle injury. Joe Public back-up custodian Michael McComie and Defence Force defender Anton Pierre have both been added to the squad as replacements.

The abrupt end to the international careers of Yorke and Latapy follows a stormy campaign by the pair.

They have both been at loggerheads with the T&TFF for years and Simoes—known as a strict disciplinarian—was in no mood to grant them preferential treatment.

Upset at the timing of Latapy’s departure from the squad, allegedly for negotiations with Scottish Premier League team Glasgow Rangers, Simoes declared yesterday that there would be no place for the talented midfielder.

Yorke, who didn’t show up at the training sessions or contacted the coach, suffered the same fate.

Yorke ran afoul of Simoes after absenting himself from a friendly match against Panama on June 10—less than a week before a qualifying game against Honduras.

But Yorke and fellow absentee Anthony Rougier were reinstated within four days after the pair—and Latapy—had threatened to retire from international football if they were not used against Honduras.

Rougier never offered a written apology but, according to Simoes, Porterfield accepted the former captain’s explanation of his position and he got his place back.

All three players were eventually fielded in the country’s 4-2 home loss, Latapy scoring the first goal after coming off the bench.

That remains Latapy’s lone goal at this stage of the campaign while Yorke is goalless after five Concacaf final round qualifying matches.

Yorke, who has been the subject of an alleged £8 million offer from former team Aston Villa, will be anxious to reclaim his starting place at United.

Latapy, on the other hand, looks set for a dream move to Rangers who will play in Europe’s elite club competitions next season.

Yesterday’s resignation letter, which was signed by both players, read:

“We wish to express our thanks and appreciation for the opportunity provided and the support rendered by members of the technical committee and the administrative personnel throughout our tenure on the national senior football team.

“It is thus with heavy hearts that we advised the technical director today of our decision to resign from the senior team with immediate effect. This decision, which we believe is in the mutual interest of all concerned, is due primarily to our personal commitments as well as the increasing and conflicting demands of our clubs, Manchester United and Rangers FC, and the national team.

“Special thanks are extended to the people of Trinidad and Tobago who have supported and inspired us throughout our careers. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the soccer fraternity, and fans in particular and give our full support to the national team in all their endeavours.”