Giovani dos Santos has all the makings of the perfect Hollywood star — the show-stopping play, the strong connections to the Latino community, the smile tailor-made for commercials.
A star for the Mexican national team, dos Santos was a hit from the moment he joined the L.A. Galaxy. His No. 10 jersey is the most popular in the crowd at games, and last year he was given the Excellence in Sports Award at last year’s LA Times Latinos de Hoy Awards.
It took a journey for him to reach to Los Angeles. After joining FC Barcelona’s famous La Masia soccer academy when he was 11, Giovani dos Santos made stops in England and Turkey before joining the Galaxy last summer.
As the Galaxy’s official website noted, L.A. was a perfect fit for the Mexican star.
“Southern California is a natural fit for the striker who is already a hero with the Mexican national team thanks to nearly a decade of memorable moments with El Tri. Whether it was leading the U-17’s to the nation’s first world soccer title in 2005, to winning a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, or his FIFA World Cup appearances in 2010 and 2014, Dos Santos was already a household name throughout Los Angeles before joining the Galaxy.”
Dos Santos said it felt like a perfect fit as well.
“Los Angeles is truly a fantastic place. I’ve gotten so much love and respect from the Latino community. Every day outside of training, I feel the support of the fans. I feel blessed,” Dos Santos told LA Galaxy Insider. “I always feel excited about seeing people cheering my name. It’s great. It’s one of the greatest things from soccer because you can feel their passion. My teammates and coaches have also been incredibly supportive. I love everything about LA.”
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) February 26, 2016
Giovani dos Santos comes from strong bloodlines. His father, Geraldo Francisco dos Santos, played professionally in Mexico, El Salvador, and in the United States for the Los Angeles Lazers of the MISL.
As MLSSoccer noted, Geraldo fathered a number of star players.
All three of his Mexican-born sons went on to pro careers: Eder, born in 1984, with second-tier Mexican club Socio Aguila and briefly with América; Giovani with Barcelona, Tottenham, Ipswich Town, Galatasaray, Racing Santander, Mallorca and Villarreal before coming to the Galaxy; and Jonathan, born in 1990, with Barcelona and Villarreal.
His play has stood out in the last several months, and Giovani dos Santos is now close to pulling his team to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. The Galaxy held Mexican team Santos Laguna to a scoreless draw on the first leg of their match this week, and dos Santos said he is confident that his team can pull through in the second leg.
“The second leg is wide open with the 0-0 score,” Dos Santos told ESPN Deportes. “I think our team did good work today. It is too bad that we couldn’t solidify the chances that we did have to score, but the team is headed in the right direction and we are looking forward to the second leg so we can play a great match and win the series.”
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 25, 2016
Dos Santos added that his team had plenty of chances to score the go-ahead goal in the first leg, but couldn’t finish on their opportunities.
“Yes, I couldn’t get anything going, but the important thing is to keep fighting and improve for the return leg where we must maintain the same path and score on all the chances that present themselves.”
The CONCACAF Champions League counts road goals as double for tie-breakers, so the Galaxy need a goal in a win or tie to advance.
But whether the Galaxy advance or not, it seems that Giovani dos Santos is poised to become the next iconic Los Angeles athlete.
[Picture by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]