South Korea’s Casey Phair becomes youngest player at Women’s World Cup
Casey Yu-jin Phair made World Cup history Tuesday in Sydney, Australia.
Phair entered South Korea’s 2-0 loss to Colombia in the 77th minute in the country’s first game at the World Cup this month. At 16 years old, that officially made Phair the youngest to ever take the pitch at a women’s World Cup.
The previous record belonged to Nigeria’s Ifeanyi Chiejine. She was 16 years and 34 days old when she made her debut in 1999. Phair beat that mark by just eight days.
Phair was born in Korea but grew up in the United States. Her mom is Korean, and her dad is American. They moved to the U.S. when she was just a month old, and she started playing soccer just a few years later. They settled in New Jersey, where she scored 25 goals in 15 games last fall as a freshman at the Pingry School. Phair has trained with both the United States women’s national team camp and South Korea’s, though the latter quickly won out.
Phair scored five goals in just two games with South Korea’s U-17 team in Asian Cup qualifying earlier this spring. It wasn’t long after that that she was drafted up to the senior team, and eventually, she made the World Cup roster — which made her the first mixed-heritage player to do so in the team’s history. Much of Phair’s family still lives in South Korea, and her dad, Shane, estimates that they spend about half of their time in the country.
“If there’s one thing that we want the world to know, it’s how passionate she is about competing and about the Korean national team, and how committed she is to helping the team win,” Shane told the athletic “At the end of the day, she is focused on winning. That’s the mentality. She’s always been like that.”
Colombia took a 2-0 lead before halftime Tuesday and ran away with the match. Catalina Usme scored first in the 30th minute on a penalty kick, and then Linda Caicedo scored again less than 10 minutes later. They held on the rest of the way and shut South Korea out to take the 2-0 win.
South Korea will take on Morroco next on Saturday before playing a final game in Group H against Germany next week.
Youth is being served elsewhere in this year’s Women’s World Cup: Midfielder Giulia Dragoni, who was born Nov. 7, 2006, played Monday against Argentina. When Dragoni played for Italy on July 1 against Morocco, she was 16 years and 236 days old