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14
Sun, Aug

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Glenavon last night swooped to make a sensational signing - Trinidad & Tobago's World Cup defender David Atiba Charles.


The move will be completed tomorrow after the IFA meet for final consultations with the Home Office about a work permit.

But no-one at Lurgan expects any hitches after weeks of exhausting research.

The 24 year-old who has started 19 of his 20 games for his country - the most recent only last week in Japan - is now expected to make his debut against Linfield at Windsor Park on Friday night.

Home Office officials in London have not raised any objections to the towering centre-half joining the Irish League.

Atiba, as he prefers to be known, was a member of Leo Beenhakker's World Cup squad in Germany but was kept on the bench by Rangers star Marvin Andrews.

He stands well over six feet, is aggressive, pacey and not surprisingly very strong in the air.

He arrives at Mourneview Park on the recommendation of skipper Aaron Black who played along side him in the Caribbean with W Connections.

Atiba made his debut against Cuba three years ago and played in three World Cup qualifiers.

Charles battled his way into the international set-up through his consistent and outstanding performances in Trinidad's professional league.

He began his career with Point Fortin Civic Centre but has been the mainstay in defence for W Connections for the past four years.

Delighted Colin Malone said: "It was too good an opportunity to miss.

"We have signed him on a full-time contract the only condition being that we won't stand in his way if he gets a chance to play in England or Scotland.

"Atiba has had one trial with a Premiership side and while things didn't work out he still harbours ambitions to play full-time in England.

"But under the regulations he could only sign for a team in a Premier Division and that's where we come in."

Amazingly Charles turned down the offer of a more lucrative contract in Saudi Arabia worth 150,000 US dollars because he feels the Irish League is a better shop window.

Malone added: "It has been an exhausting experience, a complex business but our company secretary Harry Cherry has worked long and hard to get things sorted out and to this stage.

"I must also say Atiba's club in Trinidad, the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation, the Home Office in London and the IFA have all been very co-operative."

Atiba said: "Hopefully this is the first step towards reaching my goal of a full-time career in England.

"I joined Glenavon because of my connections with Aaron Black and I'm looking forward to playing for them.

"I could have joined other clubs in other countries but I felt the Irish League would provide me with a better shop window.

"I don't know much about clubs here but Aaron has assured me football is of a decent standard where scouts are always on the lookout."

Atiba is very keen to play in England or Scotland where many of his World Cup mates have already made their mark.

Guys like Shaka Hislop who was with West Ham before moving to America, Ian Cox and Brent Sancho of Gillingham, Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham), Chris Birchall (Port Vale) and Carlos Edwards (Luton Town).

Several others are featuring in Scotland - Marvin Andrews (Rangers), Russell Latapy and Densill Theobald of Falkirk, Collin Samuel (Dundee Utd), Jason Scotland (St Johnstone) and Kelvin Jack of Dundee.