Midfielder Kris Twardek (red jersey) played in each of Canada's three games at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Photo: Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- His first tournament for Canada may not have gone as originally hoped, but Kris Twardek has no regrets about the choice of nation for which he competes internationally.
Twardek, who was born in Toronto and plays his club soccer with England’s Millwall, had the option of lining up for Canada or the Czech Republic thanks to his parentage.
He played for the Czech Republic in the 2014 UEFA Under-17 Championship, but decided to make the switch to the country of his birth last year.
“I can say that the change to Canada was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Twardek. “With the staff and the players, I come to these camps and it’s the most I’m enjoying my football.”
Having been shutout in its first two games at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica, Canada didn’t want to go completely goalless in the competition for the first time in 22 appearances. The streak remained intact thanks to a 2-0 win over Antigua & Barbuda on February 23 as Twardek netted the first goal.
This initial taste of CONCACAF play may be over for the 19-year-old winger, but it has served as inspiration to continue aiming higher.
“The worst part of the whole experience is that we have to leave,” Twardek remarked. “There’s a pride to (international football). A lot of the time when you play club football it’s for a new contract or for yourself. You’re making a career for yourself, but international football is about the team. It’s about pride and it’s bigger than what you are.”
The cycle may be over for this group of players, but the Canadian Soccer Association will keep its youth program busy. An under-23 selection is slated to play a tournament in Qatar.
Twardek is already looking forward to his Canada future, finishing: “I can say that there’s definitely more to come from this group.”