Shaka: I can die a happy man now!

Shaka Hislop has admitted that he 'can die a happy man' after making a memorable World Cup finals debut with Trinidad & Tobago at the weekend.

The 37-year-old Hammers goalkeeper played a starring role as the Caribbean minnows held Sweden to a 0-0 draw on Saturday in their opening Group B match, and with a mouth-watering clash against England coming up on Thursday, he is certainly enjoying his first appearance at football's greatest tournament.

In his exclusive World Cup column with The Times newspaper, Shaka said: "It was the proudest day of my career. I think it would have been even if I hadn't played - I was happy with the role I played in the qualifying campaign and I didn't really expect too much more - but Saturday's match completed the jigsaw for me. I know now I'll be a happy man when I retire.

"I was always going to be once we qualified, but from the time the first whistle went I knew that a big part of the jigsaw had been fitted. And then for things to go as they did, well, I think I'll die a happy man.

"I was just so proud. For us to get a draw against Sweden in our first game in the World Cup finals and for me to make a few decent saves along the way, it felt great.

"But, to me, even more important than the point we won was the point we proved - not only to ourselves, but to the people of Trinidad & Tobago and I think also to people all over the world.

"When we went out on to the pitch before the game, it seemed that 75 per cent of the crowd were made up on the yellow of Sweden. The rest of the stadium seemed to be neutral except for a few little pockets of the red, white and black of Trinidad & Tobago. OK I thought. But then, with 10 minutes remaining, it seemed the whole crowd was chanting for us. That was mouthwatering. It told me that we were winning some friends, which is what we came here to do.

"That probably meant more to me than any of the saves I made. That and the smiles on the faces of my team-mates and our supporters at the final whistle. It was an incredibly proud moment, but more as a Trinidadian than as a footballer."

Read Shaka Hislop's World Cup views, every week in The Times newspaper.