Zico Phillips has shuffled around the Barbados Football Association’s top-flight team for a number of years, but after working under Head Coach Russell Latapy, the six-foot, six-inch giant said he is ready to go all the way, even if it meant he ended up being a coach too.
Phillips, who hails from a football family, the likes of Tyrone White and Gun White who represented Barbados kicked off his football career at Empire before moving onto Beverly Hills. From there, he plied his trade at Tudor Bridge before joining Paradise FC.
The defender then spent four years in the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP), then went onto play at Antigua’s Old Road FC before rejoining Paradise.
“You will see the guys going to the game and all of them focused on one goal and everybody wants to be a part of that, so it was a good opportunity for me to take and further my football and I took it,” he said of being a part of the BDFSP.
Going back to Paradise, Phillips said was a good thing as a lot was expected of him and he got to show that.
“A lot of the guys look up to me so I would never show them a bad side. All the youngsters in the team I would hold their hand and say we training together just to keep pulling them along. They might not make the team the first time, but me being there is an encouragement for them to come back. I was a youngster too, so I like to help out the youngsters,” he said.
And Phillips who celebrates his 29th birthday today said he had been butting around the national side since 2012, having been picked and dropped a number of times, but only after a conversation with Head Coach Russell Latapy did he buckle down.
“My first call up was in 2012 and I was just butting about on the edges all the time. I always said to myself, you’re right here but you need that extra step to go forward and represent. A lot of different coaches came in, but then Coach Latapy came in, he saw me and told me to attend training.
“We had a conversation and he told me to be patient and he likes my style of play. He said he sees me as part of the team, so that is when I put down my head and went forward with everything I had. Working under Russell is good. He had a lot of one on one with players. I get to training early and he would tell me what he needs me to do, instead of what I was doing. He would put me on my guard, even before he has to address it so I would know where to become better, and he does it for each player,” he said.
Latapy’s words encouraged the Manchester United fan, and he made his debut goal – rising to his full height he secured a thrilling header in the 90th minute – against USVI last October when Barbados’ elite beat the team 4-0 in the Concacaf Nations League.
“I think that is the best goal I ever scored,” he said proudly.
With national training having restarted two days ago, Phillips, who has three national caps, said he was excited to get back out.
“Training by yourself ain’t like training with a team at all. It does just be boring. Being there we get encouragement from each other, so that’s a plus,” he said.
And while he noted he was getting up in age, he said he would still push himself to the limit, going as far as he could for as long as he could.
“I also help out with Paradise youth team, so after playing I will carry on coaching or something like that just to be involved,” he said.
But if there is one thing the Sergio Ramos fan could change about local football, it would be the crowd.
“I would change the size of the crowds coming out to support football like when the LIME/Pelican Tournament was playing or even the David Thompson Tournament was playing. Once we can get back out the crowd, football will be way better and the standard will go up,” he declared.