The most universal sport awakens great passions in the Caribbean. The countries of this region of the world haven’t obtained great results in the main competitions, since only four teams have been able to take part in a FIFA Cup and only Haiti has won a major CONCACAF event; nevertheless, in the Caribbean islands’ streets and homes, football is felt and lived with a very strong intensity.
Cuba was the first Caribbean country to participate in a World Cup. For the appointment of France, in 1938, Cubans received a special invitation and managed to advance to the quarterfinals, by overcoming Romania in the eighths. Then, the team was thrashed 8-0 by Sweden; but, in any case, they inscribed their name in history. It took 36 years for a national Caribbean team to return to a World Cup. In 1974, Haiti was included in group D and there lost all three games, so it concluded in the contest fifteenth place. 24 years passed until the next Caribbean presence in a World Cup. In 1998, the “reggae boys” game enchanted France and the Jamaicans achieved a victory against Japan, although they couldn’t advance to the next phase, after losing to Argentina and Croatia. Then, in 2006, Trinidad and Tobago also left a pleasant image, to equalize against Sweden and lose tightly against England and Paraguay.
In the Gold Cup, the most outstanding performances in the Caribbean correspond to Jamaica, which finished second in the 2015 and 2017 editions; while, Haiti won the call Concacaf Cup, in 1973.
After this quick historical recount for the Caribbean national teams most important moments, we asked the question: what players would make up the Caribbean’s ideal eleven of all times? In Panamericanworld we respond to the challenge of organizing a very complete team, in which we took into account the positions that the athletes occupied on the field and we also tried to have as many countries represented as possible.
ERGILIO HATO (PORTERO – CURAZAO)
This excellent goalkeeper was nicknamed the “Black Panther”, for his great athletic ability. He never wanted to make the jump to Europe, although he had enough quality for it, but he preferred to play always in the local league. With his country’s selection, he won a title in the Central American and Caribbean Games of 1950; he also took part in the Olympic Games in Helsinki and won a bronze medal at the Mexico City Pan American Games, in 1955. Curaçao’s national stadium is named after him.
RUSSELL LATAPY (TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO)
This midfielder, born in Trinidad and Tobago, played professionally for more than 20 years. His first important results were obtained with Porto, from Portugal, with which he won two local leagues and became the first Trinidadian to play in the UEFA Champions League. Then, Latapy continued his career in Scotland. In total, this player wore the national shirt in 81 games and his contribution was key to his country’s historical classification to the 2006 World Cup.
DWIGHT YORKE (TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO)
Yorke can be considered the most successful Caribbean player in the European professional leagues. He began his career at Aston Villa, of the English Premier League, with which he scored 97 goals in 231 games, and then signed with Manchester United. In his first year with the “Red Devils”, under Sir Alex Fergusson’s leadership, Yorke scored 18 goals and won the League, the FA Cup and the Champions League. In the following season, he expanded his leadership and drilled the nets 22 times. With Trinidad and Tobago, he took part in 72 challenges, in which he scored 26 goals and his offensive power was essential for his country’s classification to the 2006 World Cup.
JOCELYN ANGLOMA (GUADALUPE)
Angloma was born in Guadeloupe and had a successful career in Europe, where he played in more than 400 games, for different clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Valencia, Milan’s Inter and Marseille. This skilled player won the European Champions League, in 1993, with Marseille’s Olympique and, in addition, he was in two other finals of that competition, with Valencia, in 2000 and 2001. Angloma’s contribution was decisive for Guadalupe to advance, for the first and only time in its history, to the 2007 Gold Cup semifinals. In addition, he played for the French national team in the 1992 and 1996 European Championship.
IAN GOODISON (JAMAICA)
Goodison spent much of his career at the Tranmere Rovers club in England, for which he played in more than 400 games. In addition, he is the soccer player who has worn the Jamaican national team captain’s bracelet the most. He was at the France World Cup, in 1998, under the orders of Rene Simoes.
HUMPHREY MIJNALS (SURINAM)
This player was named the soccer player of the twentieth century in Suriname. In 1960 he became the first Surinamese to represent the Netherlands. There he played for several clubs such as USV Elinkwijk and DOS Utrecht. In addition, on 40 occasions he wore Suriname’s national team uniform.
RICARDO GARDNER (JAMAICA)
This soccer player played for 14 years (1998-2012) in the Bolton Wanderers club, for which he scored 23 goals in 413 matches. In addition, he was a member of Jamaica’s national team between 1997 and 2012 and, during that period, he participated in four Gold Cup editions and the France World Cup in 1998. He currently works as national coach of the Jamaica team in the sub-20 category.
LINDY DELAPENHA (JAMAICA)
This was the first Jamaican soccer player to play professionally in England, where he played in different clubs such as Portsmouth, Mansfield Town, Hereford United and Middlesbrough, where he scored 93 goals and was a leading scorer in three seasons.
SHALRIE JOSEPH (GRANADA)
This player was born in Saint George, but then moved to the United States. There he played for the New England Revolution club for 10 years. Moreover, with Granada he participated in several Caribbean Cups and in qualifying matches for the World Cup. In 2007, he was named the Best Soccer Player of the Caribbean.
JUAN TUÑAS (CUBA)
Tuñas can be considered the best Cuban soccer player of all time. He was nicknamed “the net-wrecker” and that goal-scoring instinct was present at the France World Cup in 1938. The great performance he had in that tournament opened the doors of Mexican soccer, where he played in the Real Club España club, with which he won two titles.
CLYDE BEST (BERMUDA)
In the last century’s sixties and seventies, this player was an important part of the West Ham club, with which he scored 58 goals in seven seasons. Then he continued his career in the United States. Between 1997 and 1999, he directed Bermuda’s national team and, in 2004, he was elected to the Sports Hall of Fame in his home country.