Flex. What was your most exciting game you ever played for Trinidad and Tobago.
Shaka. The most exciting game I played for T&T was without doubt the game against Honduras in the second round of the recently completed world cup qualifiers, which we eventually won 1-0 thanks to a Stern John second half strike. We were reduced to 10 men after about 20 minutes, and it was all hands to the pump from there on in. It was a game that they had to win if they were to qualify as well, so the atmosphere was unlike anything I’d seen before, or ever will again.
Flex. What was your most difficult game for Trinidad and Tobago.
Shaka. Every game I play in is difficult for a number of different reasons. One of the more difficult ones was probably Mexico away in the same competition, which we lost 3-0. Thanks to the conditions, the altitude, the hostile crowd and an overly biased ref. The fore mentioned Honduras game was also quite difficult as one of my teammates and close friends Mickey Trotman, died on his return home to prepare for that very game.
Flex. Who do you admire the most on the Trinidad and Tobago team as a player, on and off the field.
Shaka. That’s a hard question. Players have their good and bad attributes. The players that immediately spring to mind are Stern, for his professional commitment, Tony Rougier, for his overall commitment to the team, his family, and his beliefs. But probably most of all Marvin Andrews, as I believe he is the best example of the complete package in professionalism and commitment.
Flex. Do you intend to return to Trinidad and Tobago and help out our football team in anyway.
Shaka. Yes I do. When or in what capacity I don’t exactly know, or if I’ll be allowed to.
Flex. Do you miss playing in the premiership.
Shaka. Yes without a doubt, it’s the best stage to play your football. With the luck that every football team needs I’m quite hopeful that I’ll be there before long with Portsmouth.
Flex. Had you been the coach of the Trinidad and Tobago football team, what would you do to help us qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
Shaka. The team has lacked real belief and confidence in themselves and their coaches in the recent past. This HAS to be addressed. This hasn’t been their own doing, the problem stems from the fact that every time there are a series of poor results cracks open and the coach is eventually sacked. As we all know every team has poor results from time to time, it doesn’t matter if you’re Manchester United, Real Madrid or Joe Public, and we always seem to take the cowardly way out and immediately sack the coach. This cowardice will undoubtedly have a lasting effect on the players and the team.
Flex. What can the T&TFF do to help our team qualify for the next World Cup and beyond.
Shaka. Show more faith and belief in the players and the coaches.
fleX. Do you think we have a good youth system in Trinidad and Tobago.
Shaka. We have relied very heavily in the past on the Colleges/ Secondary Schools League to develop our players. There has been a recent shift in emphasis away from this, which I strongly disagree with. Rather than try to develop new formular to develop our youths we should be putting more emphasis and resources.
Flex. Did you go to the November, 19th, 1989 game when T&T played the USA, if no, what T&T game have you ever attended before you decided on joining the team.
Shaka. I was at University in the United States at the time of that game. I actually had chicken pox at the same time as well. I’d been to numerous games before and since.
fleX. Do you think you would have been so successful if you didn’t grow up in T&T and who got you involved in playing football.
Shaka. Who knows? My Dad has always been very instrumental in my development throughout, in more aspects of my life than just football. As long as he was there for me I have no doubt that I would’ve been successful in whatever I had put my mind to.
Flex. Would this help our chances of qualifying for the next World Cup, do you believe we should have a full local based team who’s capable of taking us to the World Cup, something like the Strike Squad (fully local).
Shaka. To have a fully local and successful team is impossible in today’s football. Our best players would inevitably play their trades elsewhere in an attempt to earn a decent living out of the game. It is an aspect of today’s game that we as a country haven’t fully come to terms with or the Federation been able to cope with, but we’ll have to, and soon.
Flex. Have you ever worked with our present coach, Mr. Hannibal Najjar, if yes, what‘s your thoughts.
Shaka. No! I haven’t, my brother has though. I’ve known Hannibal on a professional level for a very long time now though and I’m looking forward to working with him and experiencing first hand, as I share his enthusiasm and passion for the game.
Flex. Which youth T&T player you’ve seen that impress you the most.
Shaka. I haven’t been able to see any youth football for a long time now., so I really couldn’t say.
Flex. What was the feeling like when you played for Trinidad and Tobago in the 2002 Gold Cup.
Shaka. Every time I have represented T&T I have been truly honoured. Professionally there is simply no bigger accomplishment or honour. You get a real feeling of reaching the pinnacle of your sport.
Flex. Judging from your experience as a professional , if someone was to ask you, “Why Trinidad and Tobago never qualified for the World Cup at senior level, how can teams in the past such as USA, Canada, Haiti, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica and Guatemala, which is just as equal as Trinidad and Tobago skill wise, qualify for the World Cup and T&T cant, what would be your reply.
Shaka. Administratively we’ve failed to cope with the changes in the modern game and its players.
Flex. Have to ever visited the SOCAwarriors Online, if so, what was your thoughts.
Shaka. It’s a very informative site, one that the general fan can air his/her opinions quite openly for constructive debate without being chastised for it. The fans need that type of forum.
Flex. Do you think you will ever return to Trinidad and Tobago to live after you retire.
Shaka. Yes!!! The minute I retire from the professional game my family and I will be boarding a BWEE flight.
Flex. How can we as fans help our football team.
Shaka. Players feed off of crowd reaction, this has been sorely missing of late in T&T football. The players need it and thrive off of it.
Flex. Do you enjoy being a goalkeeper.
Shaka. I’d prefer to play another position to be honest, there is simply no room for error as a keeper. I don’t have any regrets though.
Flex. If you could choose any club in the world to join, who would you choose to play for.
Shaka. Real Madrid. They’re the biggest club in the world. Strangely I’m more a Barca fan than a Real fan.
Flex. Would you ever consider joining a local PFL team after you retire and have you ever been to a local PFL game.
Shaka. No I wouldn’t. Once I hang up my boots here in the UK it will be because I’ve simply had enough, and that will be that. I have been to quite a few games though, and thoroughly enjoyed them all.
Flex. Who is your most favorite player in the world.
Shaka. Zidane. He is the complete player, and an absolute joy to watch even in the dullest of games.
Flex. Would you be part of our 2006 World Cup drive (age is irrelevant).
Shaka. Unfortunately age is VERY relevant. I’m still undecided what part I’ll be playing if any. It’s a matter I need to discuss with the National coach.
On the behalf of the SOCAwarriors Online and the SW fanz, we would like to say thank you to Mr. Neil Shaka Hislop for doing this interview for us, even with a hectic schedule Shaka still managed to put aside everything to do this Q&A form for us, now let's hope more TnT players both locally and internationally will also follow in Shaka's footsteps reaching out to the TnT supporters and helping us understand how it's like to be a professional football player and life beyond that. Remember! Making time for the supporters helps make a better understanding between the fans and the players bringing us closer together for a better tomorrow, thank you.