Football runs in the blood for Borussia Dortmund's 'American Dream' Gio Reyna, who is on the 20-name shortlist for the coveted Golden Boy award held by teammate Erling Haaland.
Read on for more about the talented US teen…
Giovanni 'Gio' Reyna
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: USA (nine caps/ four goals)
Born in November 2002, Gio is the son of former American internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna, who met shortly before the USA hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994. After a successful playing career – which included stints in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, where he became the first American to captain a European club – former USMNT captain Daddy Reyna was appointed sporting director of Major League Soccer club New York City FC in 2013.
Watch: Gio Reyna living the dream!
A supremely gifted sportsman from an early age, Gio followed his Pops to NYCFC, joining club's youth academy, and his talent soon shone through. In April 2017, at just 14, he helped his team to win the Generation Adidas Cup – a competition for U17s – and was even named player of the tournament. He then played a starring role as the US U15s won the prestigious Torneo delle Nazioni youth tournament, racking up four goals and four assists – including the winner in the final against England.
After a strong 2017/18 campaign with the NYCFC U18/19s – in which he scored 13 goals in 17 appearances – Reyna arrived in Dortmund at the start of 2019. Like former teammate Christian Pulisic, he was able to join the Black-and-Yellows at the age of just 16, having secured a Portuguese passport through Claudio's mother Maria. After playing for the club's U19s team in 2019/20, he was promoted to the senior side during the winter break and made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 18, aged 17.
Reyna opened his Dortmund account a few weeks later, scoring in BVB's 3-2 DFB Cup defeat to Werder Bremen in February 2020, at the time making history as the competition's youngest goalscorer. He then usurped Pulisic not only as as the youngest Dortmund player to feature in the Champions League, but the greenest American to play and assist a goal in the tournament annals, aged 17 years, three months and five days.
After producing his first Bundesliga assist on the penultimate day of 2019/20, Reyna scored and assisted on the opening weekend of his first full top-flight campaign. He was already a first-team regular at the time of his USMNT debut in November 2020, and scored on only his second senior international, a friendly against Panama. The 6'0" playmaker won his first senior trophies with Dortmund's 2021 DFB Cup triumph and the USA's 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup success.
In August 2021, at the age of 18 years, nine months and 14 days, Reyna became the youngest player to reach 50 appearances in the Bundesliga. Breaking the record previously held by Kai Havertz, US Soccer's Young Male Player of the Year for 2020 marked the the occasion with his sixth league goal.
Watch: Reyna - Half a century and more to come!
Plays a bit like: Kaka
Patrick Vieira, who coached Reyna during his two-year spell with NYCFC, has previously likened BVB's new diamond in the rough to his former France teammate David Trezeguet, alongside whom he won the World Cup in 1998, but his ability to run at top speed for extended periods, breaking into opposition boxes and scoring goals is more reminiscent of AC Milan and Brazil great, Kaka.
Gio certainly shares the his excellent finishing ability, as showcased by a stunning top-corner strike against Panama at the 2017 CONCACAF U15 Boys' Championship. On his US U15 debut against Uruguay, at just 13, he also showed strength and determination beyond his years as he was brought down by a defender but immediately sprang back to his feet, riding another challenge and slotting coolly past the opposition goalkeeper for 2-0.
A true all-rounder, Reyna is blessed with pace and possesses a keen eye for the killer pass. He is also dangerous from set pieces, notably direct free-kicks.
Did you know?
The Reyna family suffered tragedy in July 2012, when Gio's older brother Jack died of brain cancer at the age of just 13. Gio was nine years old. Claudio recalls taking Jack to see Gio try out for a basketball team a few months beforehand, in particular the moment when his eldest son turned to him with a smile and said, "Dad, Gio is the best player here by far."
"He wasn't jealous about anything," Claudio told Sports Illustrated. "He absolutely thought Gio was incredible."
What they're saying
"I called him 'the American dream' before. What he's doing on the pitch is amazing. He has a huge future in front of him." - Haaland
"Gio's going to grow into a fantastic player, there's no question about it." USMNT head coach, Gregg Berhalter
"He could be arguably the best young American talent out there today." - Dortmund's first American player, Jovan Kirovski
"He's much more of an athlete than I was, much more of a goal scorer. He's very technical and has a good feel for the game. He has a great free kick and can strike a ball well. Danielle was a great runner – and he's a runner." – Claudio Reyna, Gio's father
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