Trying to forge your own path as a soccer legend’s son can certainly be weighty, with expectations and legacy both creating pressure.
Soon-to-be US men’s national team midfielder Giovanni Reyna and Austin FC sporting director Claudio Reyna discussed that during a recent piece with New York Times chief soccer correspondent Rory Smith. The 17-year-old is one of the Bundesliga’s top up-and-coming players, forging his way into a consistent Borussia Dortmund role. It’s also resulted in a shift for the elder Reyna, a former USMNT captain who had 112 caps during his playing career.
“Now, when I’m introduced to people, especially kids,” Claudio Reyna said, “it is just as Gio Reyna’s dad.”
“The aim was always to be better than him.”— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) July 28, 2020
This took a while: @Gioreyna10 @ErlingHaaland and @MarcusThuram on what it’s like to be the famous son of a famous player.
And their Dads on what it’s like to be the famous Dad of a famous player. https://t.co/NwCK6PnXBk
Reyna, who spent much of his youth career with NYCFC’s academy team, discussed what it was like growing up in a household of a midfielder who’s one of the United States' best-ever. It came with pointers as he went from a bright prospect to serious pro prospect.
“He gave me advice when I knew I could turn professional, but mainly he just put me out there and let me decide where I wanted to go,” Gio Reyna said. “He has always wanted what I wanted. He is the opposite of pushy, really: When I was little, he never told me to go out and train five times a day. What pushed me on was my competitive streak, my willingness to be better than others.”
Claudio Reyna knows there will be ups and downs, which he experienced during his 15-year career that spanned from Bayer Leverkusen to the New York Red Bulls. He knows that talent is only part of the equation.
“His focus is simple: day to day, year to year, building a good career,” Claudio Reyna said. “He knows he will have difficult moments and tough times, that it’s inevitable. But he knows he will have to keep going, and he will have to handle them.”
For more from the father and son, check out the entire piece here. Dortmund teammate Erling Haaland is also featured, as is Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram.