South Korea's Casey Phair Becomes World Cup's Youngest Player
16-year-old Casey Phair becomes youngest player in Women's World Cup.
In South Korea's Women's World Cup opener against Colombia on Tuesday, the players behind the goal remained relaxed throughout the game. However, in the 78th minute, one player stood out from the group. Casey Phair, at just 16 years and 26 days old, stepped onto the field and made history as the youngest player to ever play in a Women's World Cup.
Phair, who has an American father and a South Korean mother and was raised in the United States, admitted to feeling extremely nervous before going on. However, once she started running around, she said that the nerves settled and she was able to focus on the game.
Previously, the record was held by Ifeanyi Chiejine, who was 16 years and 34 days old when she played for Nigeria in the 1999 Women's World Cup.
During the 17 minutes that Phair played in South Korea's 2-0 loss to Colombia, she was constantly near the ball, competing fiercely with Colombian players for possession.
South Korea's head coach, Collin Bell, praised Phair's performance and stated that she deserved the opportunity to play. He mentioned that she had trained just as well as anyone else on the team and he wanted to give her the experience.
Phair's next chance to play will be on Sunday when South Korea takes on Morocco in Adelaide, Australia.
Born on June 29, 2007, in South Korea, Phair is not only the youngest player to represent South Korea but also the first multi-ethnic player, male or female, to play for the South Korean senior national team. She expressed her pride and honor at being the first mixed player for the Korean Federation and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity she was given.
Phair is not the only young star in this year's Women's World Cup. Two other 16-year-old players are also participating in the tournament, although they were born in 2006. Giulia Dragoni started for Italy in their 1-0 win over Argentina, and Sheika Scott subbed in for Costa Rica in their 3-0 loss against Spain.
In fact, there are a total of 39 teenagers among the 32 teams in the Women's World Cup, with four players being 17 years old. One notable young talent is Colombia's Linda Caicedo, who at 18 years old, scored her first World Cup goal in the 39th minute of the match against South Korea, earning her the player of the match honors. She is currently the youngest goal-scorer in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
Despite the predominantly pro-Colombia crowd, Phair remained focused and determined to make her mark in history. She mentioned that the loud atmosphere during warm-up was enjoyable and she hopes to get used to it as she continues her journey in the Women's World Cup.