Football runs in the blood for Borussia Dortmund's next American starlet Gio Reyna, who scored his first senior goal for the club in the DFB Cup quarter-finals against Werder Bremen after being promoted to the first team during the 2019/20 winter break.
Read on for more about the talented US teen…
Giovanni 'Gio' Reyna
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: USA (U23 cap)/England (uncapped)/Portugal (uncapped)
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 – the former USMNT captain 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 joined the NYCFC 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, coming on as a 72nd-minute substitute for Thorgan Hazard. Reyna then opened his BVB account a few weeks later, scoring in Dortmund's 3-2 DFB Cup defeat to Bremen in February 2020.
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
"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." – Former USMNT captain Claudio Reyna, Gio's father
"For a kid, he has this physical presence and his game understanding is really good. He can score goals, he understands the demands of the game tactically. He's a really smart kid and he's shown some really good stuff." – Patrick Vieira, Reyna's former youth coach at NYCFC
"In training you can see that he has something special. If you can’t see that, you’re blind." - Dortmund coach Lucien Favre