John Anthony Brooks sits in a room at the U.S. Men’s National Team’s hotel in front of two computers, digesting evidence of his newfound fame. During a Twitter Q&A, he laughs at a Twitter user that asks if his back hurts from carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders. He smiles at a video sent to him on Facebook of U.S. fans reacting to his 86th minute winner in the States, timed (perfectly, I might add) to DJ Snake & Lil Jon's "Turn Down for What."
For a man of few words, it's a lot to take in.
"It feels good, but I'm not the kind of player that likes the attention," Brooks told ussoccer.com. "I'm just focused on helping the team, and that's the main thing."
On Monday, Brooks helped the team in ways few expected.
U.S. MNT veterans Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey share a moment with John Brooks after the young defender scored the game-winning goal against Ghana in the Americans' opening World Cup match.
It's only been a couple of days since the goal, but it seems everyone has heard about "the dream." Brooks imagined himself scoring the winner against Ghana in his sleep two days before it actually happened. He forecast images of heading the goal in off a corner kick. He even came scarily close on the minute (he dreamed it in the 88th, he did it in the 86th).
But still, as the ball hit the back of the net, all Brooks felt was disbelief. And he looked every bit of it.
"Just believe it!" Brooks said forward Aron Jóhansson yelled in his ear as he lay face-down on the ground after the goal. Jóhannsson stayed with him, crouching down to repeat the phrase, literally lifting his teammate from the turf after everyone else had gone.
"I didn't believe it, so his words were important for me," Brooks says now. "He could tell I didn't believe it."
Now, Brooks says, he is finally starting to digest the moment. In the locker room after the game, the team presented Brooks with Ghana’s match flag, giving him solid, tangible evidence of what he is now quick to deem the greatest moment in his life. Questions in his social media Q&As continued to flood in. Reaction videos too.
"I am just thankful for the moment," he says. "It was amazing."
U.S. midfielder Julian Green congratulates John Brooks on his big moment after he delivered three points for the USA against Ghana in the teams' World Cup opener.