From the Borussia Dortmund youth academy all the way to the senior squad of the eight-time German champions. It was a big leap in a short space of time (six months) for Giovanni Reyna, who has already made German football history The 17-year-old scored to reduce the deficit to 3-2 in the DFB-Pokal tie away to Bremen on 4 February 2020, making him the youngest scorer in the history of the competition at the age of 17 years, two months and 21 days.
The son of the former Bundesliga player Claudio Reyna, who made 74 appearances in the German top flight for Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, was born on 13 November 2002 while his father was playing for Sunderland in the English Premier League. Both Reyna senior and his mother Danielle Egan, a former USA international, seem to have passed on their sporting talent to their son, who is named after the former Netherlands international Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The Dutchman played alongside Reyna's father at Rangers
Up to the eighth grade, "Gio" played basketball too – but his full focus was then on "soccer", as football is known in the United States. Reyna joined the New York City FC youth academy, where his father was working as the sporting director at the time, at the age of 12. The versatile youngster, who can play in a range of attacking positions, joined Borussia Dortmund four years later, in the summer of 2019, and moved into the youth performance centre. "BVB are a great club for young players who are fighting for the chance to play at a high level as early as possible. When the enquiry came from Dortmund, I didn't have to think for long. Dortmund is a bit different from New York, but perfect for me," he said in the BORUSSIA member magazine.
Head coach at the time Lucien Favre had been keeping close tabs on the promising youngster since the start and included him in the senior squad that went on the USA Tour in the summer of 2019. "He's very intelligent and can play in almost any position in any system." He made his first appearance against Augsburg in a 5-3 away victory on 18 January 2020, before scoring his first goal 17 days later – and it was a corker too "Disappointed with the result but happy to score my first professional goal," he said. It was certainly a successful start to his senior career.
Reyna could have played international football for four different nations: USA, England, Argentina (his father is half Argentinian) or Portugal (his mother is half Portuguese). He chose the US and celebrated his international debut against Wales one day before his 18th birthday on 12 November 2020.
"2020 was a year that no one will forget, and it was a special one for me. I gained a lot of experience, met a lot of great people and made good friends. I have been part of the senior team ever since. I wasn't sure if I could do that before – and then everything happened faster than I thought possible," he says in retrospect. "Despite the high expectations of myself and the team, I have done quite well, improving in several areas. I think you should listen first and speak later, and I took that to heart."
After coming on as a substitutes in 13 of his 15 Bundesliga appearances in the 2019/20 season, he was involved in 32 of the 34 matches in the following 2020/21 season, making the starting eleven 23 times. Involved in eight goals in the first eleven games (three goals, five assists), Reyna was very, very impressive in first half of the season. In the 4-0 win over Freiburg on Matchday 3, he became the first 17-year-old to provide a hat-trick of assists in a Bundesliga game since records began (in 1992). He bagged a brace in the DFB-Pokal semi-final, scoring the first two in a 5-0 victory over Kiel. Despite his young age, he contested the most duels of all BVB players in the 2020/21 season (607 overall) and won a very respectable 47 percent of them. He demanded the ball often and proved hard to stop (he was fouled 49 times).
On 13 November 2020, his contract was extended until 2025. He was already a permanent fixture in the team by his 18th birthday, before his 2021/22 season was cut short by serious injuries. From the end of August to the beginning of February, he spent more than five months on the sidelines because of a muscle injury. In his starting eleven comeback on 20 February 22 against Mönchengladbach, he had to be replaced in tears after 30 minutes. Fortunately, what was feared to be a serious thigh injury turned out not to be as serious as first thought. However, on Matchday 29 in Stuttgart, he suffered a torn thigh only a few seconds into his return to competitive appearance and left the pitch in tears again. That injury meant Reyna's 2021/22 season was over after only ten appearances.
In the 2022/23 season he gained a reputation for his impact off the bench. The technically-gifted attacking player came on as a substitute in 17 of his 21 Bundesliga appearances, more than any other BVB player. Five of his seven goals – a new personal best for a single season – came off the bench. All of these goals came after the winter break. Three of these five substitute goals were late match-winners.