AZ Alkmaar travel to Dundalk, pinning their hopes on youngster Levi Garcia. We've profiled the player, who's already turning heads across Europe.
AZ Alkmaar travel to Ireland to face Irish league champions Dundalk FC in their penultimate game of the Europa League Group D. Alkmaar are bottom of the group on two points, though a win over the second placed side will see them overtake their group rivals and create a chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds. A name that's doing the rounds recently is Levi Garcia of AZ Alkmaar. Although he's only been at the Dutch club since February 2015, his rise has been phenomenal, establishing himself in the first team at just 19-years-old.
In light of Garcia's likely appearance against Dundalk tonight, we've profiled the player and shed some light on his humble background.
Growing up in the south of Trinidad, Levi Garcia comes from humble beginnings. He began playing football from a tender age with his brothers in the small Trinidadian town of Santa Flora; he was handpicked early as one for the future. Whilst Garcia is a somewhat new name for many tongues that speak the language of football, those who have witnessed the budding 19-year-old have already been amazed by his undoubted talent.
Garcia progressed rapidly in his native Trinidad, becoming the standout player at college level, leading his team to the Secondary Schools’ Football League Trophy and he was soon selected for national duty for the Trinidad and Tobago U20s. It was here that Dutch scout Humphrey Nijman spotted the rising star.
His pedigree for success is a noted feature of his youth, having won titles from a young age. His first professional game came at age 15 for T&TEC in Trinidad, before he moved on to Shiva Hindu Boys’ College of Penal, Trinidad. Although he briefly joined Central FC, he would soon depart for U20s duty, only to be scouted by Mr. Nijman.
Levi, before he could feature in a match for Central FC was on trial at AZ Alkmaar, where he was under the special care of Marco Van Basten and the Dutchman was impressed with what he saw of the youngster. Garcia is a versatile player. He’s a left wing by nature, but can perform well anywhere in attack because of his general strength, skill, ball control and improvisation techniques.
Talent beyond his size
Despite his height of 5”9’, Garcia possess strength in possession of the ball, he’s quick and can finish. He’s a real number ten. Garcia made his debut for Alkmaar, wearing the number 28 shirt, against Feyenoord, becoming the youngest player from Trinidad and Tobago to feature in a match in Europe at 18 years and 65 days, taking the record away from well known former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dwight Yorke.
Levi was not done yet though, going on to score a double on his national debut for Trinidad and Tobago against St Vincent and the Grenadines, becoming the youngest player to score in a FIFA World Cup qualification match in the process. He was also the youngest to feature in a match for Trinidad and Tobago. These were all records held by Yorke.
Garcia has started his professional life with Alkmaar well debuting at Feyenoord and scoring in only his second match at NEC Nijmegen after coming on as a sub in the 71st minute, gaining instant popularity with the fans. Garcia made eight appearances coming to the end of the 2015/16 season where AZ placed fourth. The 2016 season has started well for the 19-year-old, already making eight Eredivisie appearances, scoring and assisting one apiece. He’s also spreading his name across Europe, playing in four Europa League qualifying matches and two group games.
This season Levi has progressed and looks well adapted to the Dutch ‘total’ style of play and is coping well with life in Holland. Levi is proving a lot to handle for defenders, as he regularly gets past his marker with his excellent footwork, control and strength.
Alkmaar the right destination
Levi Garcia is definitely one for the future and a good buy for Alkmaar. The Dutch club have a reputation for developing great players going on to play in Europe’s top five leagues. Just ask Vincent Janssen, Alkmaar's top scorer in the Eredivisie last season who was signed by Tottenham over the summer.
Alkmaar continue to grow and constantly breed young talent, now boasting Derick Luckassen and Ridgeciano Haps in their ranks. It’s the perfect environment for Garcia to improve his game.
Alkmaar have already put out dribbling skills of Levi Garcia on youtube so all fans and those who wish to take a look are much welcomed to see this talent of tomorrow shine. Soon his name will be etched in the hearts of Alkmaar fans and engraved in their history but bigger things can also be expected of the Trinidadian as many expect big clubs to come knocking soon.