Wed, Jun

Garcia draws attention from Van Basten.

National Under-20 midfielder Levi Garcia has completed two months of intense preseason training with Dutch top flight club AZ Alkmaar.

Garcia, the outstanding midfielder from Shiva Boys College, who also played for Siparia Spurs, returned home on Monday and is expected to return to the club maybe a week before his 18th birthday on November 20. Only then can the player make his professional debut for the AZ first team for which he has signed a three-year-contract. Garcia has however already trained with the first team and played in preseason training matches. 

The highlight however for the 17-year-old has been training under former Holland legend Marco Van Basten who had been the head coach for the club earlier this year before stepping away for health reasons. Van Basten returned to the set up recently and was significantly involved in sessions with Garcia. The former AC Milan star however left the club again after being hired as one of the assistant managers of the Dutch national team.

“One of the real highlights for me apart from all the activities of preseason was being able to work with Marco Van Basten. He paid a lot of attention to me during training. We spoke a lot. At every session he would come over and give me advice. He showed me a lot of things. That was special for me,” Garcia said.

Van Basten was also quoted in the Dutch Press as describing Garcia an “exceptional 17-year-old talent with a lot of ability”.

“The first few weeks was amazing. It was a bit tough at first because of the change in conditions and adapting to the speed of the game. But I settled in. I got a few goals in the practice games. They’ve welcomed me quite nicely at the club and I’m comfortable,” Garcia said.

“I played all the first team practice games but then they had to go off to the Europa Cup so I stayed back and trained with the Reserves but then I was back with the first team again.” 

The player has put on a lot of muscle over the past couple months which he says was listed as a priority by the club.

“They were serious about physical development. I was in the gym before every training session on the field. And they were not very strict on diet but they made sure I was eating all the right things and following a programme,” he said.

Garcia also spoke about Leo Beenhakker and following the Soca Warriors during the Gold Cup.

“One of the first things I wanted to do when I got there was to meet Leo Beenhakker. But because of the training schedule I wasn’t able to. The club said they will definitely arrange for me to meet him when I return in November. And the national team for me was amazing at the Gold Cup. I was following the Gold Cup out there and the team did better than I expected. I was really excited. I really have my hopes on making the team at some point once I can settle in at the club and start playing in the League,” Garcia said.