Meet The CPL’s Youngest-Ever Pro: TJ Tahid
This weekend will see Vancouver FC make history in Langley as it prepares to host its first-ever professional football match at home.
Just 24 hours before this, however, the club also made history nation-wide: it signed Maple Ridge teenager Taryck “TJ” Tahid to its final roster spot. At just sixteen years and 16 days old at the time, he becomes the youngest player to ever sign a Canadian Premier League standard contract.
We’ve long-reported about Tahid’s expected signing, and had penned our surprise when he wasn’t announced along with a trio of other young talents.
The teenage prospect will be available selection in the club’s debut home match today, expected to be a sellout with some 6,600 fans ushering in tonight to witness a long-awaited moment for co-founder Rob Friend and company.
Vancouver FC’s head coach, Afshin Ghotbi, has seen and done a lot in a career that once saw him ninety minutes away from reaching a World Cup Final. He describes the youngster as a football phenom with the potential to reach the highest level of the game, saying he has quite a high football intelligence for his age – and the power, pace, and skill to make things happen with that knowledge.
“I am thrilled to sign my first professional contract with Vancouver, and become the youngest player in League history,” said Tahid. “The opportunity to go pro at my age is something I do not take lightly, and I am grateful to Rob Friend, Afshin Ghotbi and the team at VFC for helping me to take this next step in my career.”
Tahid had been present for the club’s long preseason which saw Ghotbi build a 23-man roster from scratch. He was one of the early-bird additions, featuring regularly in preseason camp, though he couldn’t sign a pro deal until his sixteenth birthday.
The Maple Ridge, BC-born youngster had recently played in the Vancouver Metro Soccer League for the U-21 VanCity Pro Football Academy. He has also trialed with Villareal CF, New York Red Bulls, and FC Midtjylland, before which he represented his birthplace after featuring on the Maple Ridge youth team Albion FC.
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The young history-maker becomes the last of 23 allowed players on Vancouver FC’s Canadian Premier League roster.
“I am excited for our fans to get to know TJ as a bright up-and-comer who has the ability to make an impact on our team this season,” added club owner Rob Friend. “We at VFC are committed to helping him reach his full potential as a professional.”
The club hasn’t shied away from trusting young talent, with Porty Moody’s own Anthony White – the league’s youngest-ever first overall draft pick – becoming the first selection to sign a multi-year pro deal right from the get-go.
Vancouver FC will now look forward to hosting a team at Willoughby Park for the first time ever, with its debut home match against Cavalry FC set to take place at 7:00PM EST.
Header Image Photo Credit: Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC