Whitmore: Those goals against Japan were very special
It has now been 20 years since Jamaica's historic appearance at the FIFA World Cup in France. Some of the members of that team recall some of the memories of that campaign for The Sunday Gleaner's Rachid Parchment.
Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore is one of Jamaica's most iconic figures in its footballing history. Now the national senior men's football team head coach, he commands the respect of the players that work under him. However, that respect was gained from his time as a player, where he was considered a midfield general for Jamaica.
This was further established by his two goals in the Reggae Boyz's 2-1 win over Japan at the FIFA World Cup in Group H in France 98. He told The Sunday Gleaner that this is a very special feat to him.
Rachid Parchment: In Group H, there were some highly reputable players you faced, such as Croatia's Davor Suker and Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta and Ariel Ortega. Did you feel any nerves lining up against them?
Theodore Whitmore: For me, I always like to play against the 'big boys'. I always produce my best when I come up against them. The only disappointment for me was not playing against Zinedine Zidane (of France), who I idolised.
RP: What went through your mind when you scored both goals against Japan?
TW: The night before that game, myself, Ricardo Gardner and Ian Goodison were having a discussion. They were saying, 'A you (Whitmore) start it.' At the start of the qualifying campaign against Suriname, I scored the only goal. They said, 'Wi cyaan mek it end like this. Yuh affi find something against Japan inna di final game. So mi just pray and say mi ago go out deh and deal wid it. We got one, then the second. Went after the third, but it never happened.
RP: What feelings did you get hearing the National Anthem in the World Cup?
TW: Even at the National Stadium, you have to be very strong when an Ian Andrews sings the National Anthem. There's a lot of nerves but in France, it was nerve-racking as well.
RP: What's your favourite take away from the whole experience?
TW: Actually scoring. You have a lot of big name players in the World Cup scoring goals so to know I did the same, is really special.