Twenty-six year old Puerto Rico Islanders defender Osei Telesford has issued a "come get me” tag to Trinidad and Tobago head coach Russell Latapy.
The former Chicago Fire player took time off from his hectic season to chat with the Soca Warriors Online (SWO) about his past experiences, his love for the game, the ups and downs in his career and his desire to play for T&T if given another opportunity.
Read more on what Osei had to say;
Flex - You had a more than impressive University career with Liberty. You started 65 of the 66 matches from 2003 to 2006, scoring 8 goals and assisting on 8 more. You were also named to the All Big South Conference Team in each of your four years with the team. How was your experience in the US college league compared to the T&T SSFL?
OT: My experience in the US college league was a huge step up from the SSFL. In the US college league you are playing for a scholarship which cost around 20 to 40 thousand dollars a year, so the demands were higher! The SSFL in my time you would play for the school you passed for, so you were more playing for pride and bragging rights! But I guess now the SSFL has changed since I’ve heard of schools recruiting now.
Flex - You also played for Carolina Dynamo in the USL Premier Development League. You were named PDL Defender of the Year in 2006, and were a PDL First Team selection for helping Dynamo to a league-best 14-0-2 regular season record. In 2007 you were snapped up by MLS club Chicago Fire, but made only 2 appearances for the club due to injury. Your MLS career was eventually cut short and you were released after one season. What do you think went wrong at Chicago and what was your experience like in the MLS?
OT: Yes my MLS career was cut short due to injury, but it was a great experience for me to share a locker room with some great professionals like Paulo Wanchoppe , Cuathemoc Blanco, Chris Armas, Diego Gutierrez and CJ Brown to name a few. I don’t think there was much that went wrong, I came in as a rookie, worked hard, made the first team roster every game I was healthy for and was the first rookie to play (first team football). But getting a season ending injury 2 months into the season set me back for the year. The second year was different, and the club wanted to move into a new direction. Overall, I enjoyed my time in Chicago and learned a lot.
Flex – During your time in the T&T SSFL, which players really stood out to you and who did you feel would have excelled on a higher level?
OT: The SSFL had a lot of talent in my time. Too many names to list actually, but Kenwyne Jones was twice named SSFL player of the year when I played, so I expected him to excel.
Flex - In the US college league, you played alongside or against many T&T players, such as Anthony Noreiga, Kyle Cupid, Fabien Lewis, Teba McKnight and Darryl Roberts to name a few. In your humble opinion which of these players did you feel was capable of breaking into the T&T team?
OT: I personally think all of them were capable of breaking into a T&T team, and if I’m not mistaken they all have national team youth experience, so they were definitely capable of breaking into a T&T team. I think the Federation has to keep better tabs on players that go abroad.
Flex - You are now with Puerto Rico Islanders where you are teammates with 4 other Trinidad and Tobagonian players. How is life in Puerto Rico? Do you enjoy living there? Can you speak Spanish, and do you have a special bound with your fellow countrymen on the team?
OT: Life in Puerto Rico is nice, I enjoy living there because I can enjoy the best of both worlds. Some parts are like the Caribbean and others like the US. I studied Spanish in Trinidad and some in college, so yes I can speak Spanish. Yes, we have a special bond and good times in PR.
Flex - During a 2010 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship second round match at the Larry Gomes Stadium, both San Juan Jabloteh and PR River Plate had a big brawl were Police had to be called in. What are your thoughts on the situation and are some of the players normally that vicious in Puerto Rico? (smile)
OT: No they are not vicious in Puerto Rico. No comment on the brawl.
Flex - You came to T&T and won the 2010 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship with Puerto Rico. It was the first time a team from Puerto Rico had won that Cup. What was the reception like from the club and fans when you guys got back to Puerto Rico? Was it a strange feeling coming to your homeland to face some of the players you were once teammates with? Were you surprised that a T&T club didn't win the Cup and if yes, which Pro League team did you feel was capable of winning it and why?
OT: It felt great winning a championship and to do it on home soil made it even more special. It was the first time a Puerto Rican club has won the tournament so our fans were very thrilled. They met us in the airport and were very proud. I think going into the tournament, people had Joe Public as favorites after their record setting 5 trophies last year, but I was not surprised that we won it. We worked hard and set goals at the beginning of the year and that was one that we accomplished! Still working on the others.
Flex - After you signed with the Islanders there were many other T&T nationals that followed. Did you have a say in that?
OT: Not really. Our coach is good friends with Terry Fenwick so I think he had a say, but I was asked if I knew them and my opinion.
Flex - Being that the Puerto Rico Islanders compete in the USL, does the flight schedule affect you in any way as you travel back and forth from Puerto Rico to USA?
OT: Now it does not, but I’ll admit it’s very hectic! Sometimes we are on the road for a month at a time and we may end up going to five different countries in that time since we play in the Champions league as well. One year I think we went to Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Montreal, the US and then back to PR playing games. But it’s a lot of fun and we stay in some nice hotels, try different foods and, get a lot of air miles.
Flex - Barracuda FC from Antigua & Barbuda will be competing in the USL next season. Do you feel T&T teams should follow suit? If yes, give us your view on why and how it will benefit T&T clubs?
OT: Congratulations to Barracuda FC, but I don’t think T&T teams should follow suit. I think T&T has a lot of strong teams in their Professional League and we should focus on bettering our league before we take our best teams away and send them to play in a foreign league. I think T&T teams have proved that they can compete with teams from outside (CONCACAF Champions League and Caribbean Cup), so they should focus on building a stronger Professional League.
Flex - Now on to T&T…. as far as your international career goes, we have not seen you in the Red, White and Black for a while. What do you think is the main reason for your absence from the team?
OT: Yes I've been away from the national team for over a year now. The last time I was selected was January 2009 to travel to Argentina, but I was forced out due to injury. Since then I've had 2 knee surgeries and missed the entire playing season of 2009. So that was the main reason why I’ve been away from the team.
Flex - When you made your debut for T&T in 2007 I for one, was impressed with what I saw. You were used at center back and looked pretty solid in defense. Then further down in your T&T career you were used as a defensive midfielder, where you were not as impressive and were sometimes prone to making errant passes. Though your work rate was a relieving sight, you looked out of sorts (if so to speak). Did you feel you should have just focused on mastering one position on the field before rushing into another?
OT: I don’t think it was my decision to switch to midfield, I was always a utility player (defensively) meaning I’ve played anywhere from center back to wing back and now defensive midfield. Under Wim he used me as a Center back and Under Maturana I was used in midfield. I showed up to camp and they made the decision.
Flex - Your first goal for T&T was against Jamaica in Kingston, where the game ended 2-2. How did you feel when you scored your first goal for T&T?
OT: A lot of people don’t know this, but that was actually my first game playing midfield for Trinidad. The team was down 2-0 and Maturana (the coach at the time) asked me to go in and play midfield to help win the ball back. Since I’ve played a little midfield in college I went in the game and just happened to be in the right spot at the right time and scored a goal! It was a great feeling and very special, because it was assisted by my college roommate and one of my best friends Darryl Roberts, and because I scored against Jamaica in "the Office" too. (Smile)...
Flex – Who is the best coach you have ever worked under?
OT: I’ve worked with a lot of good coaches and each one has taught me something different in the game. A few them are Martin Romany, Lester Young, Anton and Allan Corneal, Joe Brown, Jeff Alder, Francisco Maturana, Juan Carlos Osorio, Colin Clarke and I’ve even been in a training Camp with the most famous Coach in Trinidad History, Leo Beenhakker. So I’ll have to say the Dutch duo of Leo Beenhakker and Wim Risjbergen.
Flex - If given the opportunity to play for T&T again, what do you feel you can bring to the team that will help us improve? Which position do you prefer playing?
OT: I’m not going to sit here and try to sell the fans a dream about me coming and making miracles on the team. I can only play as best as I can. And if I'm called to action on the team I'll play with heart, grit and determination, because it’s always a pleasure to represent my country and I take a lot of pride in doing that! I’ll play in which ever position I’m needed. (Defensively)
Flex – Who are the best players you've played with and against, at club or international level?
OT: With: Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy. Against: Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard . These are just a few off the top of my head.
Flex - Who would you say is most instrumental in helping you be the professional footballer you are today? In other words who taught you the game and helped you develop?
OT: I think it will have to be the same answer for the best coach! All those coaches have shaped and developed me. To the ones that I forgot to mention, I apologize, this is just off the top of my head.
Flex - A name like Osei sounds African? Does it have a particular meaning and were you named after someone?
OT: Osei means Noble. Yes it’s African, and no, I was not named after anyone.
Flex – What was your proudest moment?
OT: My proudest moment was singing the national anthem on my senior team debut against Barbados!
Flex - Where did you think T&T went wrong during 2010 World Cup campaign and do you feel we have what it takes to get to Brazil 2014?
OT: The 2010 World Cup campaign is over and I don’t really want to rehash the past, but 2014 is coming fast, and yes we have what it takes, but it’s not going to be easy.
Flex – What are the things you missed most about T&T?
OT: I miss my family, friends, and the food.
Flex - Do you still keep in contact with the TTFF or vice versa?
Flex - Obviously you are ready and willing to play for T&T if called upon. Do you have any words for T&T head coach Russell Latapy, as it was recently announced that he may look at some US based players in time for the Digicel Cup?
OT: I'm available if needed and it would be an honor to play for T&T again.
Flex - If called, will you be available to play for T&T during the entire Digicel Cup, which starts in November of this year?
OT: I’ve played in 2 Digicel Cups, made it to the finals in one, and didn’t come out of the group stage in the other! I’m ready to win a Caribbean Cup, so yes I’ll make myself available.
Flex – T&T Under 17 Women's team created history at this year’s 2010 FIFA World Cup. Not only did they win the opening game in a FIFA World Cup finals, but they also made history by winning the first ever World Cup match for this tiny twin island republic. What are your impressions of the U-17 Soca Princesses?
OT: Congratulations to the U 17 Soca Princesses on making history! I was unable to view any of the games live, but looked at highlights and had a lot of text messages from fans who filled me in along the way. They represented the country well and made everyone proud! I hope this is not the end and they keep working hard and look forward to the U 20 World Cup.
Flex - Have you ever visited the Soca Warriors Online (www.socawarriors.net) and the Warrior Nation websites (thewarriornation.com)? If yes, what are your thoughts?
OT: Yes I’ve visited the website. Informative, funny, sarcastic, critical and interesting are some of my thoughts…
Flex - Do you have any words for the Soca Warrior supporters out there?
OT: Continue to be the 12th man for the team. Come out and support the team whenever you can !