A veteran of two FIFA U-20 World Cups, full-back David Edgar will be a key component in Canada's bid for glory on home soil this summer. As he gets set to line up at yet another global youth showpiece , the towering 19-year-old defender took time out for an exclusive chat with FIFA.com about the future of Canuck football and his recent surge into the first team with his beloved Newcastle United.
Edgar, a native of Kitchener Ontario, but with generations of Geordie blood in his veins, admitted to nerves when he lined up for his first run-out in the Newcastle first team in the 26 December loss away to Bolton. "Yeah, I was a bit nervy because I had a whole day before to think about it and that can sometimes get to your head."
However, the speedy 6ft 4ins full-back quickly set his trepidation aside in his next start on 1 January, in front of just over 52,000 screaming fans at the cauldron of St James's Park. League leaders and local rivals Manchester United were in town, and to cap off a wonderful performance on his home debut, it was the unlikely young Canuck who popped up in the 74th minute to hammer home a long-range equaliser in a 2-2 draw .
"There is no way to accurately describe how it felt to score that goal, it was just unbelievable," the likeable Canadian - who also figures for the senior national side - told FIFA.com. "As soon as it left my foot I knew it was going in and I just went mad. It was the greatest feeling in the world. I couldn't stop smiling and the boss and the players had to calm me down because there were still 15 minutes to go. I can tell you, though, I was smiling for a few days after the game too!"
David's father - Eddie Edgar - was a goalkeeper for the Magpies in the 1970s, and with the family's roots planted squarely in the muddy ground of north-eastern England, playing for the club is point of significant pride for the youngster.
"I've supported Newcastle ever since I was a little kid in Ontario," he explained. "My family are all Geordies… so when I got a chance to get into the academy when I was 13, I was just thrilled. It's more than just a sport up there - the club is woven into the fabric of everyone in the city."
With Newcastle currently struggling in 14th place in the Premiership, but still alive in the UEFA and FA Cups, Edgar sees possibilities for silverware in 2007. "Our form in the league has not been great, but we've been putting in some good performances in the FA Cup and we won our group in the UEFA Cup," said the teenager. "We will really be pushing hard to try to achieve something in these competitions. The FA Cup means a lot to the fans here in Newcastle. We should have won on Saturday (a 2-2 draw with Birmingham City), but we're still in there with a replay."
When July rolls around, Edgar will need to swap his role as young Newcastle prodigy for that of a Canada U-20 veteran. A member of the squad that came within minutes of reaching the semi-finals at UAE 2003 , he also lined up two years later in the Netherlands for a Canadian side that dropped out in the first round with just one point, and that from a draw with Syria.
Edgar is sure that this summer's FIFA U-20 showpiece will see a Canada more like the one that showed so much in the middle-east four years ago.
"This group of players is really good and recent results against Brazil and the Czech Republic prove that," he said. "Everyone in the team is really excited to play. It's getting huge and I hear that a lot of the tickets are already sold in Canada. We need all of the fans to get behind us and I am sure they will be. Normally Canadian teams are not used to having lots of fans behind them, as we play a lot of our games away from home. But this time, with the fans behind us, we are ready to go and hopefully we can show our stuff."
Unlike the rest of the 24-team field that will line up in the Great White North, the Canucks will not be required to go through a qualifying process. Edgar, who will most likely captain Dale Mitchell's side, does not, though, see this as a handicap.
"I don't think that we'll miss much by not having to qualify," he said, "because we have a lot of tough games scheduled for the build-up to the tournament. We have trips to Scotland and Florida and a whole lot of games all over Canada."
As for stepping into the role of team leader after a season of playing the 'baby boy' with Newcastle, Edgar - who scored in a recent shock win over Brazil's U-20s - has no worries. "Yeah, I love to play the role of leader. The younger guys will look up to me and I'll try to help them out all the time."
With bags of experience to pass on to his younger mates, the sky may just prove to be the limit for Edgar and Canada as they eye their first-ever world crown.