Gio Reyna is looking forward to the chance of making his debut in the Reiverderby this coming weekend for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke. - © imago
Gio Reyna is looking forward to the chance of making his debut in the Reiverderby this coming weekend for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke. - © imago

Borussia Dortmund's Gio Reyna: "The Revierderby will be intense with or without fans"

American teenager Gio Reyna is preparing for his first-ever Revierderby experience on Matchday 26 when Borussia Dortmund play host to rivals Schalke. Dortmund's young midfielder knows it will be an intense game even when played behind closed doors.

With the Bundesliga set to return this coming weekend after a two-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic, players have been back in team training preparing for the league's resumption. Two teams preparing perhaps even more intensely than any others are Dortmund and Schalke, ahead of their Revierderby clash on Saturday at the Signal Iduna Park.

For Reyna, who is in the midst of his debut season with the club at the age of just 17, it will be his first experience of 'the mother of all derbies' whether sat in the stands or on the pitch himself.

Watch: The Revierderby - how do they compare?

"I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we're buzzing to get playing again," Reyna told Dortmund's YouTube channel. "I've never seen a derby live or played in one so of course, I've been really looking forward to this game. They're a great team but I think if we play the way we can play then we can win. It's going to be a high-intensity game with or without fans."

And it will be another opportunity for Reyna to showcase the talent he possesses which has seen him burst onto the Bundesliga scene with Dortmund in 2019/20. The English-born attacking midfielder made his debut for the club in the first game back from the winter break, coming on as a substitute in the emphatic 5-3 win over Augsburg.

Since then, Reyna has made eight appearances in the league, came on from the bench in both legs of Dortmund's UEFA Champions League last-16 tie with Paris Saint-Germain – famously setting up Erling Haaland's second goal in the home tie – and scored his first goal for the club in the DFB Cup last-16 defeat to Werder Bremen.

It's all been part of a rollercoaster start to 2020 for the American youth international who has been on a steep learning curve ever since he made the most to Dortmund less than a year ago.

"I've learned a lot on and off the field," Reyna said. "The club has taken great care of me and I've made some really good friends so far that have helped me a lot, and I'm really enjoying my time here.

"The most important thing for me is to always enjoy playing and have fun," Reyna added when asked about advice he'd give to young players. "Because that's how everybody started playing the game. Always since you were four, five years old, just loving the game. Of course, hard work is needed, but I think just having fun and playing with a smile on your face is the best way to do it."

Gio Reyna (l.) and Erling Haaland (r.) have grown close at Borussia Dortmund as two of the youngest rising stars at the club. - imago

The teenager has been living alone in Germany since his move from the New York City FC academy and has recently moved into his first apartment. For now, Reyna is still relying on teammates Haaland and Manuel Akanji to drive him to and from training, and Haaland has been one of Reyna's biggest fans since he joined the club.

"He's a humble, hard-working guy," Haaland explained. "We're both young guys, we both have a lot to learn, but he's a good guy and he's also so calm when he plays football, it's quite amazing for his age."

And in the Revierderby on Saturday against Schalke, Reyna will be looking to show that composure on the ball in the heat of his first derby battle for Dortmund.