John Brooks is now a national hero for his 86th-minute go-ahead goal against Ghana. But how did he get here? Where did this 21-year-old come from?
Unless you follow U.S. Soccer closely, there is a good chance that you had no idea who Brooks was heading into the World Cup. He is a German-American who has never lived Stateside. His father is American, and that gave him options as to who he could play for in international football.
He has these two options tattooed on his arms to show off the pride he has of his heritage.
On the club scene, Brooks plays for Hertha BSC of the German Bundesliga. He has been with the club since his youth career began four years ago. However, Brooks could end up playing in the Premier League sooner rather than later, as several clubs have shown interest in the young talent.
Brooks did his due diligence on his options before making his final international decision. He spent time in camps for both the United States and Germany. He was a member of the U-20 and U-23 camps for the U.S., and U-20 for Germany. Ultimately, he sided with the Americans.
It would not be until last August that Brooks made his U.S. debut. Since that time, he has been working alongside the senior squad.
Brooks was not supposed to end up on the field on Monday.
Matt Besler was handed a start in defence. However, Besler started to hobble around the field as his hamstring tightened up. This forced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. head coach, to make a substitution.
John Brooks in for Matt Besler. First competitive game for Brooks, who is now officially cap-tied.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 16, 2014
It was worrisome that Besler was out as the U.S. would need to maintain a lead against a fast Ghana side. This became evident as Ghana maintained majority possession in the second half and eventually got the equalizer. All things considered, the 21-year-old still held his own at the back.
As the game was drawing near its conclusion, the U.S. won a corner kick. It was here that Brooks put himself on the map as a player and made U.S. national team history. Brooks headed in the corner for the U.S. to take the lead—becoming the first U.S. substitute ever to score a World Cup goal.
It was a goal that Brooks had been dreaming about. In Natal, dream became reality.
"I had a dream. I told some teammates I dreamed I scored in the 80th minute and we win the game" - John Brooks pic.twitter.com/93eK2aco7L— Sean Dennison (@SeanDennisonMLS) June 17, 2014
Per Paolo Bandini of The Guardian, Brooks dreamed that he scored a goal in Monday's match in the 80th minute of play. It turns out he was about six minutes slow.
"Yeah, it’s unbelievable,” said Brooks after the game. “I said I had a dream, I told some team-mates that I dreamed that I had scored in the 80th minute and we won the game. Now it [turned out to be] the 86th minute and we won the game, so that was good.”
That is the current story of John Brooks. A young German-American who has burst on to the scene unexpectedly. I don't think there is much doubt that we will see more of Brooks throughout this World Cup, and for a couple more as well.