Six days before his 19th birthday in October 2019, Sergiño Dest took a life changing decision. The full back needed to decide between committing himself to the Dutch or USA national teams, having represented the at U21 level and below, most notably in the U17 World Cup in India in 2017 when he faced fellow exciting prospects such as Ferran Torres, Eric García, Phil Foden or Barça B’s Juan Miranda.
Despite having been born and bred in Holland, in the town of Almere some 30 kilometres away from Amsterdam, Dest finally opted to represent the the USA for ‘sentimental’ reasons. “I grew up in Holland and I know that playing for the oranje I would have played with some of the best players in the world but it is a decision based on feelings,” admitted Dest, who told the Dutch coach of his intent before anybody.
The man in charge of the Netherlands national team was none other than Ronald Koeman, who now becomes his coach at FC Barcelona. “He told me of his disappointment but he understood my decision. At the end of the day, it’s my decision for the rest of my life and I have to live with it, for better or for worse,” explained Dest last October by which point he had already made his debut for the full USA national side, albeit in a friendly.
Now, almost a year later, Sergiño Dest becomes the first ever US footballer to form part of the FC Barcelona first team.
The first to make his debut, Konrad de la Fuente
There is another US player, nevertheless, who has beat Dest to it in terms of appearing in friendly matches. On 12 September, Konrad de la Fuente, currently a Barça B player, made his debut with the first team in the preseason fixture against Nàstic de Tarragona. Four days later he appeared again in the win over Girona, the second friendly of the Koeman era.