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Marvin Phillip #1 of Trinidad and Tobago during the playing of the national anthem prior to playing the United States in a Group A - 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup match at Bank of America Stadium on July 2, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)
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From Eccles Village to the world, Marvin Phillip has lived and played every young footballer’s dream. The long-term Trinidad and Tobago Senior National Football team goalkeeper called time on his international career on November 2 but isn’t done with the sport.

The Soca Warrior’s second most-capped goalie (92) and a true legend in his own right took a moment from training to speak with Guardian Media Sports Senior Reporter/Producer JOVAN RAVELLO about his journey.

Sunday Guardian: You recently announced your retirement from international football. How did you arrive at this point?

Marvin Phillip: It’s a bit hard to leave the game I’ve been playing for quite several years, but this decision came through having discussions with my family. It wasn’t an overnight decision, I’ve been thinking about this for a year, and a half. Speaking with my wife and kids, they felt I should leave while I’m on top.

Sunday Guardian: A lot of people say goalkeepers have a screw loose. How did you decide to pick up gloves?

Marvin: All goalkeepers have their story, mine is probably the same as many others. I didn’t start as a goalkeeper, I started as a striker. There was an Under-15 match, and the keeper didn’t come that day, I decided to go in the goal and a coach, Mr. James saw me that day, invited me to play with Gasparillo Youths and from there it was history.

Sunday Guardian: Who was the most influential coach/administrator in your career?

Marvin: I have to go back to where it all started. It all started with Mr Oswald James. I would like to thank him. He saw something in me that I didn’t even see. He said he saw potential in me as a ‘keeper at that young age. I was like whatever and just going along. So I’d like to express my gratitude to him because he kickstarted my career.

Sunday Guardian: How did that set your vision for the rest of your life?

Marvin: To be honest, football in that community wasn’t the first sport. The first sport was cricket, so back in the day cricket season was from January to probably about June; then football for the rest of the year. Many people don’t know this but my first time on a national team would’ve been as an Under-13 cricketer.

Later, I had the chance to play football and there was the ICN/CLICO Under-13 tournament trying to prepare a team for (the FIFA Under-17 World Cup) 2001 everything just fell into place with me being selected and being under the wing of (Strike Squad goalkeeper) Michael Maurice.

Sunday Guardian: You have a pretty rare record, winning both football and cricket Intercol titles. How did you manage that?

Marvin: Back in the day, I went to a school that was playing both sports, before winning those titles I was doing the same at Presentation College. At Princes Town they didn’t want me to play any cricket at all. I had some cousins on the cricket team and they begged me to play and everything worked out.

Sunday Guardian: How important was that time at Princes Town? It was a pretty exciting team, even though we beat you guys in Moruga.

Marvin: (laughs) Firstly lemme say this, on record, Moruga always used to give us trouble down in Moruga, but when they out of Moruga was easy pickings (laugh). Being at Princes Town, it wasn’t hard playing on that team; we had the likes of (Anthony) Noriega who was a former national defender, the now deceased Clyde Leon, Linsie Sherwood, Andrei Pacheco. So Coach Gill had nothing else but to get us to play a nice style of football together and we won a national championship

Sunday Guardian: What was the first time throwing on that national kit like?

Marvin: It is always an honour to represent your country, from the youth level. It was a bit difficult being screened with about 300-400 from around Trinidad and Tobago and being in the final cut it was definitely an honour. We know football was on a high from 2006, but after that, there were a couple of players who were blacklisted and everything just fell into place for me from 2007 until 2023 when I announced my international retirement.

Sunday Guardian: Talk to me about the ride as a national senior footballer.

Marvin: It wasn’t a perfect ride, I would’ve had a lot more ups than downs, a lot of turbulence along the way but I saw it through, those times. And I think I represented my country well.

Sunday Guardian: What were some of the proudest moments?

Marvin: I could pinpoint a lot; World Cup qualifiers in Costa Rica. I had a tremendous outing there; my most recent would’ve been against Mexico in the 2021 Gold Cup, and just before that a friendly in Japan under coach Dennis (Lawrence), three would’ve been the proudest for me.

Sunday Guardian: The Mexico game in particular was a heated atmosphere. What kind of feelings were you going through?

Marvin: As players you live to play these games. Playing Mexico in the States you could say it was a home game, the stadium had about 70,000 Mexicans, definitely a hostile environment. But as the game went along- the team playing well, I making some saves, they felt the pressure and fortunately for us, we came out with a draw.

Sunday Guardian: People, including me, don’t understand what it is to be a professional footballer, can you try to explain it?

Marvin: It’s difficult, really difficult. Some people may think that it’s just three hours of training for the day and that’s it. But to be a top player you need to put in the work. If you don’t you definitely won’t have success. You need to put in the work, on the field, off the field, in your habits, diet, and rest, it’s hard work but after that, you’ll reap the rewards.

Sunday Guardian: More recently we’ve seen younger keepers like Denzil Smith, and Christopher Biggette making the step up, how do you feel about the next generation of glovemen?

Marvin: Our country is blessed, because throughout the years we had tremendous goalkeepers from Lincoln Phillips, Earl Carter, Michael Maurice, Ross Russell, Clayton Ince, Kelvin Jack, Shaka Hislop, after those names myself, Durance Williams, Cleon John, Jan Micahel Williams. So now these youngsters are making the transition, it’s good for them.

Denzil has been knocking on the door for quite a while, he’s young, and he has a lot to learn but as you can see, he’s ready for the international level

Sunday Guardian: How do you feel about the current crop of national players?

Marvin: Our football wasn’t on a high for quite a while, kudos to the coach, he’s gotten some good results recently where a lot of people wouldn’t have had any hope, so I think once the team sticks together, works hard and [PP1] goes out there and performs I think we’re in a good place right now heading into the 2026 World Cup campaign.

Sunday Guardian: Is your club career still alive? How much longer do you think you can compete at the highest level?

Marvin: I’ll be playing football in the TTPFL this year, and be mentoring some youths as well at whatever club I’ll be at.

Sunday Guardian: Is coaching the next step for you?

Marvin: I’m currently finishing some licenses, I already have my goalkeeper certificate so most likely early next year, I’ll be with (the coaching staff) of a club for the TTPFL Youth League.

Sunday Guardian: How does it feel to walk away?

Marvin: It’s a bit sad but I’m very proud of what I accomplished in my career, I’m very proud of what I’m still accomplishing as a player and as a human being.

My wife, thanks to her, has been a pillar towards the things I’ve been doing, my mom, and my dad have been a tremendous support and my kids as well, they support me in everything I do.


SOURCE: T&T Guardian