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A Gayle heads to Barbados

FAMOUS FIVE: (l-r) Denis Wise, Fitzroy Simpson, David Howells, Marcus Gayle and Paul Hall at the recent launch

THE SPORTS mad Caribbean island of Barbados stages the third British Airways Legends Invitational Tournament on June 7-8.

Staged at the world famous cricket venue, the Kensington Oval, Manchester United will look to defend their five-a-side crown having seen off Chelsea in 2012.

Last year’s line-up was a veritable who’s who of top flight players who have graced the English Premier League over the last two decades.

Among the stellar names on show were Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Wise, Andrew Cole, Dwight Yorke and Brian Lara to name a few.

Yorke scored the winner in the final as the Red Devils saw off the spirited challenge of the former Stamford Bridge heroes, who also included in their ranks the then man-of-the-moment Roberto Di Matteo, who just a week before the Legends tournament had steered his beloved Blues’ to the Champions League trophy.

While he may not have got his hands on silverware last time out, former Wimbledon, Rangers and Watford hotshot Marcus Gayle is eagerly looking forward to his second Legends tournament.


Gayle, now manager of Staines Town, told the Voice of Sport: “Last year was brilliant and well organised. The event showed the best parts of Barbados and the culture.

The locals were amazing and the players were on form.”

The standard of football, despite mature limbs and the climate, was top level with the likes of Zola, Yorke and Cole showing their Premier League class despite advancing years.

Gayle is of the opinion that the players have a duty to give of their best.

“It is important that the players do perform to give a value to the tournament. I was very happy with it all – apart from being in the PFA team rather than the Caribbean All-Stars team!

“I’m looking forward to it. I should be fully fit because I had a bit of a hamstring problem last time which affected my performance, which meant that I didn’t really play too well.

“This year I’ll be training for a few weeks for the tournament.

“When you saw the ability of Zola he looked like that he could still play top flight football even now.

“It was also good to see people like Brian Lara, an awesome cricketer, pitting his wits and skills against former professionals and by no means did he disgrace himself. I was very proud to see him play.

“It is a well run event and I’m just glad that I am part of it.”

Despite earning 14 caps for Jamaica’s famed Reggae Boyz, Gayle has Bajan blood coursing through his veins too.

WINNERS: Manchester United celebrate their Caribbean triumph

“When I heard there was an opportunity to go to Barbados I was one of the first to put my name down.

“My mum and half the family are from Barbados so now there is a chance to go and see a few of them and have a great time.”

Like any football tournament the crowd were integral to the vibe. Youngsters, and mature folk alike of both genders, were clearly delighted to have their TV heroes up close and personal.

Gayle, like most of the tournament’s participants, is fully aware that the beautiful game is a powerful and influential tool.

“Football is universal. It can bring people together as it has always done and bridge many a gap,” he added.

“The sport brings a lot of happiness and joy for the local kids as they can see and meet their heroes. A photo, autograph or even conversation can do a lot

“It is meaningful for us as players to give a little something back.”

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