The fact that 18 year old Levi Garcia was entrusted with the task of lifting the Trinidad & Tobago national senior football team out of an unfavorable position in a crucial World Cup qualifying match on his senior debut, is a testament to his tremendous promise.
Trailing 0-1, short on inspiration and in need of a spark against a St. Vincent team that proved a much trickier opposition than initially projected, Garcia galvanized the opportunity of coming on as a substitute and adhered to coach Stephen Hart’s instruction to “do what he came to do”
What Garcia did was score a crucial brace to lift Trinidad & Tobago to a 3-2 win and to the top of their Russia 2018 qualifying group, ahead of giants USA.
Garcia’s first goal came just 13 minutes after taking the field and the makeup of the goal was reminiscent of his hero Neymar.
The series of blinding step-overs that left his marker in his wake before blasting a rocket right-footed shot into the net, was perhaps a display of what is likely to come.
Evident from even his first touch, Garcia was clearly a cut above everyone else on the pitch that day as well as four days later in the return leg in Port of Spain, where he didn’t manage to make the score sheet but again had some wonderful moments during a 6-0 win.
Fast Rise to the senior level
It was that class, elegance, speed and sharpness that earned the teenager a move to Europe’s big stage, where you’ll find very few Trinidadian footballers.
Garcia made T&T football history as the youngest player from the twin island republic to score in a World Cup qualifying match and also the first to sign a professional contract for a European club when he signed with AZ Alkmaar of the Dutch Eeredivisie in February.
Already being dubbed the biggest thing to come out of the dual-island nation since Dwight Yorke, it makes perfect sense that he displaced the legendary Yorke as the youngest.
He quickly went on to usurp Yorke in two more categories, becoming the youngest Trinidadian to debut for a European professional club on January 2, 2016 and the youngest to score a professional goal a few weeks later.
Having represented the country at the U-17 and U-20 levels, the midfielder’s progress to the senior level has been similar to his skills – sharp and quick.
So far he has made seven Eeredivisie appearances for the club, with the most recent three being in the starting line-up.
He has a total of one goal and one assist in his top flight appearances, in addition to two goals in three appearances with the club’s U-21 team.
Having impressed on a trial with the team in the early part of 2015, Garcia was unable to take up the offer due to FIFA regulations regarding youth transfers, however has adapted quickly and well to his new surroundings.
Under the guidance of the former Dutch forward Marco Van Basten, hopes for Levi Garcia are high and with his fast start the teenager seems to possess the goods to fulfil those hopes and hopefully for Trinidad & Tobago, the leader of the NeXt Generation of football stars in the twin island republic.