Wed, Oct

After Greek league title, Levi Garcia eyes more success.

AFTER bagging a team-leading 14 goals to help AEK Athens win the 2022/2023 Greek Super League title, Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Levi Garcia is eager for more success. Describing it as a "massive" season and the best of his three years at the club, Garcia said this has pushed him to work even harder.

AEK Athens trounced NFC Volos 4-0 on Sunday, to top the table with 83 points.

Known primarily as a direct threat in the box, Garcia showed his play-making capability with an assist to teammate Orbelin Pineda, in the 59th minute, for the third goal. It was the club's 13th league title and the first since Garcia arrived.

The Santa Flora-born footballer finished as the runner-up for the Golden Boot, behind Olympiacos's Cedric Bakambu's 18 goals.

He had five assists for the season.

Next up for AEK Athens is the Greek Cup final against PAOK Thessaloniki FC on May 24.

Speaking to Newsday on Monday, Garcia said while it has been a "really, really long season," it is not yet over.

"(We have) one trophy in the bag and hopefully we could get another one to top of it."

He said he is satisfied with his performance thus far despite minor injuries during the season, which he called "a couple of hiccups."

"But I am really really happy about myself and I believe I could do much more, and I believe, hopefully, in the near future I (will)."

He said maintaining his fitness and health is important and he will continue to adhere to his training regimen.

Throughout the season, there were several rumours that major international clubs were interested in signing him. Among the teams reported to have scouted him are Bundesliga title contenders Borussia Dortmund, French club Lille and Scottish champions Celtic.

Despite the speculation, Garcia is staying grounded and said this is something players deal with throughout their career. But, admittedly, he said, it can be challenging to ignore these developments.

"I just try my best to pay it no mind, almost, (but) as much as you want to block it out, (sometimes) when you hear the types of clubs that are interested in you, you'd be like: 'What!?' But you have to block it off and continue to stay focused on the goals and tasks at hand."

As it stands, Garcia plans to remain with AEK Athens as there are still two years left in his contract.

But he added, "Whatever happens in the future, according to how things go, we will see..."

There has been an outpouring of support for Garcia and AEK Athens on social media by T&T nationals, which he said came as a "big surprise" to him.

"I didn't know so many people were following, and there are people who are just getting to know (about) me too.

"I appreciate the love and it's really been a joy to see the support and, as you know, this really pushes you to do even more."

In addition to this, he also has the support of his fiancé and two children who live with him in Greece. This, he said, is another major factor that pushed him to do his best.

"I think everyone knows I come from a big family with a lot of siblings, and they have played a big role in my career as well. So having a family of my own now really drives me.

"There are days where you may come home stressed and whatnot and they take away a lot of the pain and help you to recover faster and to keep going."

He said he learnt a lot this season, which he credited to his coaches, teammates and his own hard work.

"The amount of work you give in to your trade is usually what you get out of it...I really, really worked hard this season from pre-season to now and I will continue to work hard."

He said he is also looking forward to resume representing T&T on the national team as the Gold Cup qualifiers near.

After missing out on a direct qualification, T&T and 11 other teams will compete for the final three spots in the competition.

The qualification tournament will be held from June 16-20 in Florida, US, and the Gold Cup will be played from June 24 to July 16 in the US and Canada.

Owing to injury, Garcia missed out on the Concacaf Nations League in March, which saw T&T draw 1-1 with Nicaragua, a result which saw T&T miss promotion to League A and fail to automatically qualify for the Gold Cup.

He told Newsday, "It's really unfortunate I could not have been there the last time, but we still have a chance.

"I will do my best...It's a team sport but I will try my best to bring my experience and what I can help with."

The TT Football Association (TTFA) has since congratulated Garcia on social media.