Neil Shaka Hislop is a retired footballer who played as a goalkeeper. The majority of his career was spent in the top division in England where he was a part of the Newcastle United team which finished second in the Premier League for two successive seasons under Kevin Keegan’s first tenure. Before this he played for Reading where he was on the losing side in the 1st Division play-offs despite finishing second overall (which became an automatic promotion slot the following season). He later played for West Ham United on two separate occasions (receiving an FA Cup Runner-up medal during his second term in 2006) and also Portsmouth (where he won the 1st Division in 2002/03). He was eligible to play for both England and Trinidad and Tobago. He initially played for the England U-21 team and was on the bench for a full International against Chile, but in the end opted to play for Trinidad & Tobago. A dispute with the national team ruled him out of contention for several years, but he returned to play and starred in the country’s first ever World Cup appearance in 2006.
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Hislop’s first season at Newcastle United was spent battling with incumbent goalkeeper Pavel Srníček for the starting role. After starting strongly and being the starter through until December, Hislop suffered an injury that allowed Srníček to regain the starting role that he held for the remainder of the season as Newcastle blew a 12-point lead in January to finish the season in second place. In 1996–97, he remained on the bench, having to watch Srníček tend the nets until approximately the same time the previous season. A perceived dip in form and a number of mistakes from Srníček allowed Hislop to take the starting role back again and he made only his second league start of the year in a 7–1 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. Hislop successfully retained the starting position as Newcastle pipped Arsenal and Liverpool to second place on goal difference at the end of the season. Hislop’s role further came under threat when new manager Kenny Dalglish opted to purchase a former player of his own from Blackburn Rovers. Dalglish brought in Shay Given, costing £1.5 million, and a season-long battle for the number one spot ensued between the two goalkeepers. Given initially started the season, but after a string of defeats and five games without a win, Dalglish went back to Hislop in November and he stayed there until an injury in February allowed Given back into the frame. With his contract running out, and having not yet managed to play a full season at Newcastle, Hislop chose to leave on a free transfer.
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Hislop was a youth international for Trinidad and Tobago. He had played in three games for Trinidad and Tobago before 1989. In 1992, he was called up to the Trinidad national football team but was an unused substitute in three games. In May 1995, he said that he would prefer to play for England as he was born and raised there and the standard of competition was higher. He was called up for England against Chile at Wembley Stadium in February 1998. A month later, at the age of 26, he was one of three over-age players selected to play for the England U-21 side against Switzerland. Hislop played a total of 26 times for the Twin Island nation, also captaining the team in 5 matches. Hislop had announced his retirement from international football in 2004, citing the long journeys between England and the Caribbean as a factor, but returned to the national team to aid them in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the request of the Trinidad and Tobago national team management. In 2005, he was part of the Trinidad and Tobago side that qualified for the 2006 World Cup with a victory over Bahrain. The draw for the World Cup placed them in Group 2 alongside Sweden, Paraguay and England. On 10 June 2006, Hislop played in the Trinidad and Tobago national team’s first ever World Cup match, in the 0–0 draw against Sweden, replacing Kelvin Jack who suffered a calf injury in the warm-up. Writing in The Times, he would call the occasion ‘the proudest day of his career’.