Eighteen year old AZ Alkmaar winger Levi Garcia may be on course to becoming the youngest player to represent Trinidad and Tobago at a World Cup qualifier in almost three decades, after he was invited to join the “Soca Warriors” for outings against St Vincent and the Grenadines on March 25 and 29.
Garcia, according to the Dutch media, was invited to represent the Warriors in the upcoming qualifiers. The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is yet to officially announce its squad and can still make changes.
Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is obliged to serve notice to all clubs in advance of international call-ups. But he can whittle down that shortlist when it is time to despatch plane tickets.
“This is customary where we have to make the official request of the players who are in contention for selection in advance during the stipulated time,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “There are a number of players who we ensure are on the list or the general pool and contact is made with the clubs before our final squad is announced.
“This is merely to ensure we have access to these players once they are required to join the team.”
However, if Garcia does wear red, black and white strip on March 25 or 29, he will be the youngest player to do so in a World Cup qualifier since former international captain and Manchester United star Dwight Yorke.
Yorke was 17 years old and a schoolboy at St Augustine Secondary—on transfer from Signal Hill Comprehensive—when he made his competitive debut for Trinidad and Tobago in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Honduras at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain on 30 October 1988.
Yorke, who went on to become Trinidad and Tobago’s most accomplished player, was just four days shy of his 18th birthday.
In more recent times, Trinidad and Tobago record goal scorer Stern John as well as current international players, Kenwyne Jones and Khaleem Hyland, all made their World Cup qualifying debuts at 19.
Garcia, who represented Siparia Spurs, T&TEC and Marabella Family Crisis Centre at adult level in the National Super League and Pro League, holds the record as Trinidad and Tobago’s youngest scorer in a European domestic competition. And the former Shiva Hindu College student made just his third league appearance for Netherlands top flight club, AZ, on the weekend.
Hart selected six potential wingers—Lester Peltier, Joevin Jones, Cordell Cato, Jomal Williams, Trevin Caesar and Rundell Winchester—in his 23-man squad that lost 1-0 to Haiti in a 2016 Copa America Centenario play off contest on January 8.
If Garcia does get a senior team call-up, it suggests that one or two or even three of that six might be cut.
First, Hart must announce his squad to face Grenada in an exhibition match on March 19, which will give 20 players—almost exclusively employed within the Pro League—the chance to stake their claim to an international spot.
The Trinidad and Tobago team to tackle St Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to be announced immediately after the Grenada fixture.