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N.J. teen Casey Phair becomes youngest ever to play in a World Cup game

South Korea's 2-0 loss to Colombia on Monday night saw a Warren resident and sophomore at the Pingry School become the youngest player to play in a World Cup match when she came on as a replacement.

The previous record holder, Ifeanyi Chiejine of Nigeria, who was 16 years and 34 days old at the 1999 Women's World Cup, was surpassed by Phair, who is 16 years and 26 days old. At 17 years and 41 days old, Norman Whiteside of Northern Ireland was the youngest player to compete in the men's World Cup in 1982.

Before South Korea's opening match, Phair told NJ Advance Media via email from Australia: "To become successful at such a young age, I would think takes a lot of commitment. "Starting at such a young age, I missed so many gatherings with my friends to train, and it's finally paying off," the athlete said.

Phair was born in Anyang, South Korea, to an American father, Shane, and a Korean mother, Hye Young, and spent her first month of life there before migrating to the United States. She participates in a powerful club program in Central New Jersey called Players Development Academy, which has produced American sports stars including Tobin Heath, Heather O'Reilly, and Casey Murphy.

She had the chance to participate in a camp for both the U.S. national team and the South Korean counterpart, however, according to her father, she excelled in the latter and was later granted access to the team's World Cup training camp. Following that, the team's head coach Colin Bell declared she had earned a spot on the 23-player roster and made it plain she would not be a "passenger" when they made their first effort to advance in the competition.

Bell earlier this week said, "Now that she's in the squad, we'll just take it day by day. I don't really want to hype up a young player too much before she's even a player."

She is currently the youngest player ever. Prior to the event, Phair insisted that her primary objectives were to develop as a player and aid South Korea in winning matches, and that she wasn't concerned about making history. She did, however, acknowledge that the notion of competing in the same event as celebrities she grown up admiring was "really cool."

Phair remarked, "I think it's incredibly cool that I'm competing in the same event as Alex Morgan and all the other guys I admired growing up and may potentially play against them. Since I've been so busy getting ready for the World Cup, I haven't given much attention to the future.

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