Jonathan Gonzalez intends to give back to those who constructed his biggest soccer platform.
The 18-year-old star announced Tuesday on Twitter he’ll forge his international career with Mexico, instead of the United States, the country in which he was born and represented at U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups.
He shot to fame in recent months by earning a starting spot with C.F. Monterrey, helping the club reach the final of the Liga MX Apertura season and earning a spot on the Mexican League’s official best XI team. This rapid success created an unexpected tug-of-war between the U.S. and Mexico for his international services, and El Tri ultimately prevailed due to its persistence and USA’s apparent negligence.
The Santa Rosa, Calif., native and dual-national will file a one-time change of countries with FIFA in order to pursue his national team career with Mexico. He explained his decision in a lengthy statement.
“Before anything else, I want to say that I am very grateful for the support that has been provided me during my professional career during the last few months,” he wrote. “Four years ago I arrived in Mexico with the dream of playing soccer professionally, something that I have accomplished with a lot of hard work, dedication, and above everything else, with the support from my family.
“It is not easy to leave behind the country in which one is born; however, Mexico is also my home as it is the country where my parents were born and, consequently, where my roots originate.
“Today I am experiencing a very important moment, perhaps the most important up to now in my professional career and I am convinced that representing a country is, perhaps, one of the greatest honors a soccer player can have in their life.
“Through this medium I want to express that my present is in Mexico, the country that opened the doors for me. I am very grateful for both my coach Ricardo Antonio Mohamed and my club, Monterrey, because they have believed in me and supported my professional development.
“I am also thankful to the coaches who helped my growth, from Atletico Santa Rosa to those who helped during Suedo Alianza tryouts, where I was scouted by the Rayados scout, Alberto Ordaz.
“Today I want to announce my decision to represent Mexico and their National Team. I am ready to earn a spot for many years.
“I want to express my gratitude to the United States Soccer Federation for all their support and trust during my first years of my soccer development.
“The decision I’ve made has been profoundly difficult. I carry both my nationalities in my heart very proudly. However, it is time to make decisions and continue accomplishing my dreams, one of which is to represent Mexico.”
Gonzalez might debut for Mexico as soon as Jan. 31 when El Tri takes on Bosnia and Herzegovina in San Antonio in an exhibition game. However, he’s considered a long shot to earn a place in Mexico’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Nevertheless, losing Gonzalez to Mexico stings U.S. soccer fans, who were hoping he could help create a brighter future following USA’s World Cup qualifying catastrophe.
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