Miami, Florida: Antigua & Barbuda’s Vashami Allen (pictured) is one of CONCACAF’s rising young stars and is keen to realize his footballing ambitions. (Photo: David Heykoop)

From helping Antigua & Barbuda qualify for the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship to playing all 90 minutes for the senior squad in an international friendly against visiting Estonia, it has been a busy period for center-back Vashami Allen. The 19-year-old, one of CONCACAF’s rising young stars, is working hard to develop his career. He took some time to speak to CONCACAF.com about his recent successes and future ambitions.

When and how did you first get involved in football?
I first got involved with football in primary school when I was about six- or seven-years-old. The coaches saw a talent in me from that young age and from there the rest is history really. I enjoyed playing defence and I progressed through the different age groups. More opportunities came and things fell into place.

What does it mean to you to represent Antigua & Barbuda?
Whether it is the senior team or the U-20 team, it is such a pleasure to represent the country of my birth. Not many individuals get this opportunity, but I am so grateful for this. I plan to continue working hard, so I can wear the shirt of the Benna Boys as often as possible.

It has been quite a few weeks for you, qualifying for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and then competing against Estonia in a full international. Can you describe what it all has been like for you?
It’s been a wonderful feeling. It’s a dream come true. I am very happy and proud to have accomplished great things. It is now inspiring me to push on and work harder to achieve more successes.

If you could play with anyone in football history who would it be?
It would have to be my favorite football player John Terry. I admire how calm and composed he is on and off the ball. He has also matured with age. I hope I can do the same throughout my professional career, so partnering alongside Terry at center half would be amazing. He would be the one I would love to play with.

Is there anyone local player to whom you look up in Antigua & Barbuda?
Defender Dave Carr is who I truly admire locally. Growing up, I watched a lot of him play for the national team. He played in key World Cup qualifiers for Antigua & Barbuda and did well, so locally I look up to him. He has a lot of courage, tenacity and he is a hard worker.

Antigua & Barbuda hasn’t played in a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship since 1998. What did it mean to you and Antigua & Barbuda to qualify for Costa Rica 2017?
It means a lot to us. We worked hard for what we wanted. We went out on the pitch and did exceptionally well. We made our country real proud and we plan to go to the next round and go for more. We are now playing against the best in CONCACAF and we want to get to a youth World Cup.

Antigua & Barbuda finished as runner-up to Haiti in Caribbean qualifying. What were the keys to the team’s success?
Fitness was the major key to all of our successes. We stood together as one unit and we carried out our instructions well and carried out the game plan. The team gelled quickly as well, so all of these were key components.

You were the only player from Antigua & Barbuda named to the Caribbean under-20 tournament’s Best XI. What did that mean to you personally and what could it potentially signify professionally?
That meant a lot to me personally and that’s means that I have the ability to play in the top level of football. I have ambitions of playing overseas and with this accolade, I am sure it will help me achieve more.

You played in Antigua & Barbuda’s full international against Estonia on November 22. What you can tell us about that game?
Well, the game was a rough game at first. I was a little scared then the senior guys talked to me and built my confidence. Then, I settled down and started playing. I had fun while playing and I liked it. We played well with such young team and we are improving for sure. I think I did well against Estonia, who are no pushovers in Europe. It was a good atmosphere. I enjoyed playing against a UEFA team and I am just working on improving my game.

What are your career ambitions from here?
I would like to play overseas in Europe. That is my ambition. Alongside that, I want to be a regular in the Antigua & Barbuda national team.

What would you like to achieve with the national team?
I have a great opportunity on the horizon for the U-20 team at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship next year. However, with the senior team, I would like to do something similar and play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Football in Antigua & Barbuda is growing and I am determined to be part of our growth.