USA international and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna says he is thankful for the influence Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus and Lukasz Piszczek have had on his career as a pro.
The 18-year-old is now in his second full season at BVB and sparkled in the club’s first competitive game of the 2021/22 campaign in the 3-0 DFB Cup first round win away to Wehen Wiesbaden on Saturday, regularly causing mischief between the lines and teeing up Erling Haaland for the goal that completed his hat-trick.
Head coach Marco Rose was full of praise for the teenager after the final whistle: “I thought Gio was very good. He was very present on the ball and had some creative moments. During pre-season he’s improved his physicality and willingness to work against the ball. We’ll keep working with him on that.”
Watch: Reyna's learning curve in 2021
Reyna himself has not forgotten who has helped him get to this stage – including former teammate Sancho. “I can’t thank [Jadon] enough for what he’s done for me since we’ve known each other,” Reyna told kicker magazine.
“From the very first day he told me to get in touch with him any time if I ever had a problem. And in sporting terms he also helped me by telling me to believe in myself, to be confident and to show that, no matter how young I am. You can only be a good athlete if you believe in yourself. He set an example to me in that sense. I could orientate myself on him.”
Reyna has since taken ownership of the No.7 shirt previously worn by Sancho and will this season shoulder greater creative responsibility in the Englishman’s absence – alongside fellow attacking midfielder Reus.
And the eight-time USA international also expressed his gratitude towards the Dortmund captain: “He’s an absolute legend at the club. I don’t necessarily view us as competitors for a place in the side. Obviously there are certain similarities between us and the way we play. Even today I look up to him and learn from him. If there is competition between us then it’s a very healthy one.”
Reus likewise started against Wiesbaden, but with summer signing Donyell Malen and Thorgan Hazard both coming on from the bench in the second half, Dortmund once again look well stocked in the final third.
How to stay ahead of the competition is something Reyna learned from Dortmund icon Piszczek, who left the club over the summer following 11 years at the Signal Iduna Park.
“The way he worked so hard on himself every day as a professional, and the way he carried the team along with him, was outstanding,” Reyna said. “We all loved him. With his attitude he was a role model for all of us.”
Dortmund begin their Bundesliga campaign at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday 14 August.