MONTREAL – In the 53rd minute of Canada’s international friendly against visiting Curacao on Tuesday, Alphonso Davies entered the pitch as substitute for Raheem Edwards.
At that moment, a new chapter in Canadian soccer history was opened.
The 16-year-old Davies, who took his Oath of Citizenship just a week earlier, became the youngest-ever player to represent the country at the senior level.
"You just go out there, play your game, and don't think about it too much," said Davies in regard to his debut. "To put on that Canadian jersey means a lot. I am really happy to get the opportunity to play for Canada."
Davies exploded onto the international scene last September, when – as a 15-year-old – he scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to give Vancouver Whitecaps FC a 2-1 win over host Sporting Kansas City in a 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League group-stage match.
Against Curacao, Davies was denied on a pair of chances, but he was also fouled in the penalty box to set up a penalty kick that Junior Hoilett missed.
The Ghana-born attacker wasn’t the only player to earn his first camp in the match. Edwards (21-years-old), Mark-Anthony Kaye (22) and Juan Cordova (21) did so as well.
"The youth in this team have lots of energy," said forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel, whose 87th minute goal ultimately lifted Canada to a 2-1 victory. "The young players are giving everything to get their place in the lineup, but we are also seeking that consistency to keep our place, too."
With the CONCACAF Gold Cup less than one month away, the result and the up-and-coming youth gave Canada head coach Octavio Zambrano reason for optimism.
"It's very encouraging because we are at the beginning of a new process," he finished. "This victory gives us more confidence, so we are going to enjoy today and then immediately start thinking about the CONCACAF Gold Cup."