Sat, Jul

NO MATTER how long he plays at the international, and club level, national defender/midfielder Anthony Rougier is clear about his motivation.

When asked about his plans for the future, as he enters the twilight of his career, he remarked, “To give God thanks for everything that I do and to work hard.” “Hopefully (I can) stay on the national team as well and obviously do the best for my country, but to provide for my family, in any way God’s willing.” The 33-year-old Anthony has been one of a number of players recalled by Trinidad and Tobago head coach Bertille St Clair for the World Cup 2006 campaign. The muscular Anthony is adamant that he is not an automatic pick on the team, nor would he be on the squad for the sake of it. “The important thing is not me really,” he remarked, during a recent interview. “I’ve been keeping myself fit and trying to sort out my career, but what’s important is the national team doing well,” he said on a recent visit to TT.

Noted for his hard-nosed style of play and his powerful strike of the ball, Anthony has been a member of the national team since 1994. Born in Sobo Village, La Brea, he began his club career with Trintoc before the oil company merged with Trintopec to form Petrotrin. Under the name United Petrotrin, he made his mark as a thinking, disciplined and versatile player with the ability to pass expertly with either foot. Through the efforts of agent Majeed Mohammed, Anthony secured a contract with British club Raith Rovers in 1994, and had a stint with fellow Scottish team Hibernian before moving to Port Vale in the then English First Division for £175,000. Easygoing, and a devout Christian, Anthony has had to be content with playing at a number of lower-rate teams in Britain after the shocking refusal of a transfer to Scottish giants Celtic.

During an unsuccessful trial with English club Bradford City in mid-1994, he sought advice, and refuge, from teammate Jerren Nixon, who was making a name for himself at Dundee United. Anthony then signed with Raith in the Scottish First Division and later attracted interest from Celtic a year later. Acting on Mohammed’s advice, however, he declined Celtic’s offer, a decision that he admitted was a regrettable one. After he moved from Port Vale to another English club, Reading for a fee of £325,000 in 2000, he went on a month-long loan with Brighton in February 2003, spent eight months with Brentford from August 2003-March 2004, and then played out the rest of the 2004 season with Bristol City. With his wife Trisha and daughters Alisha-Kae and Maya-Kia, Anthony now lives in China where he joined fellow TT midfielders Arnold Dwarika and Gary Glasgow in the First Division with Nanjing FC.

“It’s good. A good experience, a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to it everyday,” is how he describes his stint in the world’s most populous nation. Anthony led Trinidad and Tobago to the 1999 Copa Caribe (regional) title and to the semi-finals of the 2000 Gold Cup. He had one blot on his career, however, when he and Dwight Yorke were dropped from the 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in July 2001, after both missed a warm-up in Panama a week earlier. A humble individual, he is thankful that he has been “able to play as long as I did and I know (it’s) only because of Jesus Christ.” “To see the talent that’s coming through in Trinidad and Tobago, that’s also good,” Anthony added. He is clearly keen on leaving his mark with the present crop of players as his own career draws to a close.