Aided and abetted by the likes of Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham, Gio Reyna is primed to pick up the mantle from Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund. bundesliga.com spoke to the American teen ahead of his second full season in the German top flight - one in which he's set to lock horns with compatriot and friend, Joe Scally...
bundesliga.com: How's it working under new Dortmund coach Marco Rose?
Gio Reyna: "He’s been great so far, I’m sure all the players will say the same thing. Of course, training has been hard, he’s been onto us but in the best ways possible. He expects a lot out of us but so do we. All the players and the coaching staff have the same mind in terms of what we want to do and how we want to play so we know we can be really effective together with this coach. He’s been great on and off the pitch so far."
bundesliga.com: What's the vibe after the success of last season?
Reyna: "Last season is in the past, of course we’re all really proud to have won the cup and towards the end of the season play well in the league as well but it’s a new season and we can’t really think about the last one for too long because our first game is in less than two weeks now, so hopefully we can start the cup journey in the right way. We have a great squad every year, every year we’re capable of doing great things together and I’m sure this season will be no different in terms of winning a lot of games and fighting for trophies. I’m sure everybody is really excited."
bundesliga.com: How did it feel to win your first trophy in the DFB Cup?
Reyna: "It was really nice. I was really happy for the club and some of the older guys too, like [Lukasz] Piszczek, I was really happy for him too, to leave in this way is the most perfect way possible. For some of the older guys to help our young core, I’m sure it meant a lot to them. Of course, last season was a tough season for all of us so to end it off like that was great. For myself it was a proud moment, my first professional trophy, hopefully I have some more to come. It was something I’ll remember forever, it was a great game and the whole cup journey was a great experience, it was awesome.”
bundesliga.com: You’ve now won have more trophies than your dad, have you spoken to him about this?
Reyna: "No, I didn’t. I haven’t even thought about this yet but now you say it I’ll probably call him after this and tell him I won more trophies than him!”
Watch: Gio Reyna, like father - and mother - like son
bundesliga.com: You also had some difficult times last season, didn’t you?
Reyna: "Yeah, there were a few months when I wasn’t playing, I was out of form or I wasn’t doing as well I’d like to. Then I just had to realise the people closest to me helped me get through it and then the last few months of the season I started performing again, I was scoring more goals and getting more assists. That moment was great when I finally got back on track."
bundesliga.com: How do you come through a period like that?
Reyna: "It can really just be one moment, it can be having a terrible game but scoring one goal, that can give you all the confidence you need. Or it could be one game, just a good performance. It’s pretty simple. It could be a talk with the staff or players around you that can help as well. It’s whatever works for you. For me it was probably the Stuttgart game away where I had a good game and I guess I probably got back on track."
bundesliga.com: Jadon Sancho has left Dortmund for Manchester United. You two had a good relationship, didn’t you?
Reyna: "Of course, he’s leaving now but he’s been great for me the last few years. I can’t thank him enough. Everybody at the club, I sure, will say the same thing."
bundesliga.com: And now you've inherited his No.7 shirt...
Reyna: "It was open, so I took it. He was great with it so hopefully I can do the same. I can’t thank him enough for the help he’s given me and the rest of the young players and of course all the success he’s given on the field to the team. I’m sure he’ll do really well in England, I’m excited to see where his career goes."
bundesliga.com: What did Jadon say about it?
Reyna: "We talked about it before saying if he was ever going to make a move, he wanted me to take it, and I said 'OK', and I took it. It’s just like we planned."
bundesliga.com: How would you describe Jude Bellingham’s year?
Reyna: "That’s a tough question for me. Obviously, it’s been filled with success, I’m sure he would say the same thing. I’m sure he leaned a lot throughout the last year. He progressed a lot in the last season, progressed on and off the field. He got to know guys. I got to know him really well, I’m really close to him, which I’m really happy about. It’s nothing I didn’t expect, or he didn’t expect. I always knew he was going to be a great player coming in, it was nothing out of the ordinary. I’m just really happy for him, he’s doing well and hopefully he can continue on in this season for us."
bundesliga.com: Did you get in touch with him after England's defeat in the Euros final?
Reyna: "I tried to give him a little bit of space after this moment, I’m sure it was really hard. A few days after, I text him, he was on holiday, just enjoy, see you soon, this type of stuff."
bundesliga.com: What do you think about Erling Haaland’s summer outfits?
Reyna: "The thing is, personally, I wouldn’t wear this because it’s not my style, but if anybody can pull it off and make it look good, it’s him. It really suits him, he looks pretty good in it to be honest, it’s very him. If I was wearing it my family and friends would be like: ‘you’ve got to go back to the drawing board and change your style up a little bit.’ On Erling it fits him, it suits him. Personally, I wouldn’t wear it, but it looks good on him. I’m not really surprised, I guess his personality matches it too, very outgoing. It suits him."
bundesliga.com: There's a new player from the USA in the Bundesliga – Joe Scally. Are you excited?
Reyna: "I'm so happy for Joe. He’s been doing great so far, I’ve been trying to help him in Germany since he moved over, I’ve been giving him tips and things like this. I haven’t actually seen him since I’ve been back because his pre-season training camp was a week before ours right now, so it worked out terribly. I’m sure once I get back and we have fewer double days and more days free from the games, hopefully I’ll see him at least once a week. I’m sure he’ll do well this season, gain a lot of experience with the first team and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
bundesliga.com: How would you describe Joe?
Reyna: "Very athletic, very fast, very strong. That’s his biggest strength, his athleticism. Attacking, he’s really good, he gets up and down, can put in a good cross, good dribbling, strong defender, really athletic, so hard to get past. Great right-back and I’m sure he’ll be great for Gladbach and have a great career."
bundesliga.com: How do you two know each other?
Reyna: "He was training with us when I was 12 at my academy team. Throughout that year we became really close then throughout the years we were in the same national-team age group. We were doing everything together then, over time, we both had interest from European teams, and we always talked about how we’d want to go. It’s pretty amazing how we ended up only about an hour away from each other. Life is pretty cool and, to have him over here with me, it’s really a dream for both of us."
bundesliga.com: Have you told Joe about the Bundesliga?
Reyna: "I don’t really think I needed to tell him that, he knows about the Bundesliga, obviously a great league. Gladbach is a great club, always competing for stuff every year. He had great options and I’m sure Gladbach is going to be great for him in the coming years."
bundesliga.com: How important is the Supercup against Bayern?
Reyna: "The thing that makes it special for us is an opportunity to take down the top team in Germany. They have won the Bundesliga for the last nine years and every time, I’m sure for every team that plays them, it’s an opportunity and they’re going to give it their best game. Of course, it’s never easy against them they’re a great team with so many great players but hopefully with fans back in the stadium this season and a great performance from us it’s definitely possible to get a win. We know we’re going to have to play well on the day and, of course, a little bit of luck will help. They’ve obviously been so successful here so whenever we get a chance to beat a team that you can say is above us at the moment is great. We all get really motivated and come together to try and get a win."
bundesliga.com: After the defeats to Bayern last season were you more angry or happy with your performances?
Reyna: "A little bit of both. That’s another thing, we’re just missing a few small details, I think you saw that in those games. They were really close games which, of course, are really frustrating to lose, especially when we do have chances to maybe tie or get the win in those games. It’s just a small detail, as you saw, it was really close, came down to the final minutes, could have gone either way. Of course, they’re notorious for staying strong, having a great team chemistry, team bond, and really working for each other which kind of took over in the important, decisive moments of the games."
bundesliga.com: Robert Lewandowski was Player of the Year - was that deserved?
Reyna: "Yes, I don’t really think there should be any debate. In my opinion he probably would have won Ballon d’Or last season also. I forget how many goals he scored for Bayern, but I know it’s in the 40s. One of the best strikers to ever play, amazing player. That’s really all I have to say, just amazing, he deserves it.”
bundesliga.com: Will Bayern get even better under Julian Nagelsmann?
Reyna: "I don’t know, that’s kind of a question we’ll probably think about after the first game against them. I know they’ve brought in a good coach, but with the players they have it’s never going to be an easy game. Regardless of who the coach is, it’s going to be a tough game, regardless of what it is. Every game against them, we’re going to have to play to our top level to try to beat them."