Trinidad and Tobago
- Capital: Port of Spain
- Official Languages: English
- Nicknames: Soca Warriors
- Association: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA)
- FIFA Code: TRI
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Group Stage (2006)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Gold Cup Result (Men): Runners-Up (1973)
- Best Gold Cup Result (Women): Third Place (1991)
- Best Caribbean Cup Result (Men): WINNERS (Eight Times)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 25th (June 2001)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 38th (June 2007)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 106th (October 2010)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 106th (March 2010)
- Most Capped Player: Angus Eve – 117 Caps
- Top Scorer: Stern John – 70 Goals
Trinidad and Tobago, officially ‘The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago‘, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean. Consisting of the main islands of the larger Trinidad and the smaller Tobago, the dual-island nation is located 81 miles south of Grenada and 7 miles of the northeastern coast of Venezuela.
The governing body of football in the country, The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association was founded in 1908 however the national team played their first ever game on 21st July 1905 resulting in a 4-1 away win against British Guiana (now Guyana). The TTFA then became affiliated to FIFA in 1944 and then 20 years later with CONCACAF.
Without a doubt the Soca Warriors will always be remembered for qualifying for the 2006 World Cup which at the time gave them the record of being the smallest country to have ever qualified for a World Cup. This record was held until Iceland reached their first ever World Cup in 2018. What some people may not know though is the fact that Trinidad and Tobago came very close to qualifying for a World Cup many years before. Needing only a draw from their final qualifying game to reach the 1990 World Cup in Italy, they lined up against the USA at the National Stadium in Port of Spain in front of 30,000 excited supporters. Alas, at the end of 90 minutes the USA had won the game by 1 goal to 0 meaning heartbreak for the Soca Warriors.
Since their brilliant exploits in 2006, where they managed to get a goalless draw against Sweden and frustrated England in a 0-2 defeat, Trinidad and Tobago have yet to qualify for a second World Cup. However they will be doing their upmost to rectify this when they soon embark on their qualifying campaign for the 2022 edition of the competition. They are one of the favourites to progress from their qualification group with St. Kitts & Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas having been ranked the 11th best side in CONCACAF qualification, and the highest ranked team in their group.
To find more about one of the more successful football nations in the Caribbean we spoke to Soca Warriors supporter Gene de Gourville who has an excellent knowledge of the national team and wrote a book called ‘Forged From The Love‘ charting the nation’s journey to qualification for the 2006 World Cup. You can find the links to Gene’s excellent Twitter account, the Amazon link to his excellent book, and a podcast he did with Outside Write talking about his book below:
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
The best player of all time would have to be Dwight Yorke. The choice is actually a debatable one to many, but given what Dwight accomplished in his career it has to be him. His contributions to Manchester United’s treble-winning team are well known but his leadership of the national team at the 2006 World Cup can’t be ignored.
The best manager question is also a debatable one, but considering what Dutchman Leo Beenhakker did in a short time with the team in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, the choice has to be him. If the question is about the best locally born coach then Gally Cummings, Bertille St. Clair and Stephen Hart comes into the equation. Hart would get the edge in my opinion for the team’s resurgence under him after some poor years prior. He was in charge 2013-2016.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
The cult hero would be Russell Latapy [currently manager of Barbados] who played from 1988-2009. Many would argue that he was the country’s greatest ever player and he was certainly the most exciting. On club level he played for Porto and Rangers but was perhaps his best at Hibernian in the late 90’s.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Trinidad and Tobago national side currently?
The best player currently on the national team would have to be Levi Garcia [23 year old right-winger]. He currently plays for AEK Athens in Greece and has been having a good season. The 30 year old defender Sheldon Bateau of Mechelen in Belgium, and US-based duo Joevin Jones [29 year old left-back at Inter Miami] and Kevin Molino [30 year old attacking midfielder at Columbus Crew] cannot be ignored, but Garcia gets the edge.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
The current state of the team is not a good one. After spending most of 2020 in a battle with FIFA that led to the team’s suspension, they are now ranked just below 100 in the world. Their first match in over a year was a 0-7 demolition at the hands of the USA in a friendly and World Cup qualification starts shortly. In CONCACAF anything is possible, but the team has some building to do and quickly.
Q. Are there any Trinidad and Tobago players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
The aforementioned Levi Garcia would also be the player to focus on. He was signed by Alkmaar before he turned 18 and caught the eye of Dutch legend Marco Van Basten. Van Basten worked with him specifically and saw something in him. He broke Yorke’s record for being the youngest Caribbean player to play in a European league whilst there and scored his first goal a week later. After two seasons in Israel he was signed by AEK Athens where he has had a very impressive season now aged 23.
Q. Looking at Trinidad and Tobago’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
The best game/result/performance historically would easily be the team’s performance at the 2006 World Cup. Predicted to lose in a rout against Sweden the team fought to a 0-0 draw. In continental play a semi-final finish at the 2000 Gold Cup was the team’s best.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
The team’s low point came just a few years after the 2006 World Cup when a dispute between the players and the federation led to many player’s stepping away or not being called up for a while. During that period the team failed to qualify for the 2009 and 2011 Gold Cup after poor performances regionally. In 2011 they were then eliminated earlier than they had been in decades in qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Trinidad and Tobago national team?
The best thing about supporting Trinidad and Tobago is having a history to be proud of, as well as having produced players that usually don’t come from a country as small. The worst would have to be putting up with a federation that often hinders the team and their progress.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
There is no unofficial anthem though chants of “T and T! We want a goal!” are sung during home games to try and motivate the team.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
My favourite shirt of the team would be the red and black striped 2001 jersey, though a few fans hate that one. The 2006 World Cup jersey, the 1989 Strike Squad jersey and the 2008 jersey made by Adidas are the most fondly remembered.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Trinidad and Tobago national team?
My hopes for the future of the national team are to make a deep run in World Cup qualification for the 2022 tournament, and at the very least to qualify for another World Cup in the next decade. With the World Cup expanding to 48 teams [from 2026 onwards] it is definitely a possibility.
A massive thank you to Gene for answering our questions on the Soca Warriors. Remember you can find the links to his excellent book and Twitter account at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to the author @Gareth19801 or the editor @The94thMin on Twitter.