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Last updated: 17 November, 2005 - Published 12:05 GMT
 
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Trinis celebrate football history
 
Trinidad national football players celebrate Dennis Lawrence's goal against Bahrain that took them to the World Cup.
Goal hero Lawrence (no 6) was mobbed by his team mates.
The government has declared a national holiday, after Trinidad and Tobago beat Bahrain to qualify for the finals of the World Cup for the first time ever.

Instead of going to work the government called on citizens to go to the airport to welcome the triumphant team home

There was dancing in the streets of Trinidad and Tobago after the national football team qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

In the capital Port of Spain, people waved national flags and danced alongside steelband and percussion sections to celebrate the historic victory.

Dennis Lawrence's 49th minute header erased the pain of many failed attempts to get to football's premier competition.

Most of those who spoke to BBC Caribbean Radio said they were overwhelmed with emotion and at a loss for words, but one woman said, "it is the greatest thing to ever happen to Trinidad and Tobago".

Two of the team's senior players, Shaka Hislop and Russell Latapy spoke to BBC Caribbean Report after the game and they said going to Germany gives them the chance to end their long careers on the game's biggest stage.

Boyhood dreams

"I've perservered at the national and club level for exactly this," an emotional Hislop said.

 No words to describe the feeling after all these years and all the heartache. At the end of my career, it's a fantastic way to go out, I'm going out with a bang
 
Russell Latapy

"I've enjoyed my club career but I've always felt like something was missing. This is what my boyhood dreams were made of and now I could say I've realised it," said the West Ham United goalie.

Thirty-seven-year-old Russell Latapy was a part of the team that was edged out of the 1990 World Cup by the United States.

He came out of international retirement to become a key catalyst in re-energising the Soca Warriors' World Cup campaign.

"Fantastic, fantastic. No words to describe the feeling after all these years and all the heartache. At the end of my career, it's a fantastic way to go out, I'm going out with a bang," Latapy said.

With a population of just over one million Trinidad will be the least populated country taking part in the 2006 finals in Germany.

Trinidad are only the fourth Caribbean side to reach the finals following Cuba in 1938, Haiti in 1974 and Jamaica in 1998.

Bahrain had also been trying to reach their first-ever World Cup after having come through two Asian qualifying rounds and surviving a close and controversial playoff against Uzbekistan to reach the Asian/CONCACAF play-off.

 
 
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