By Kyle McCarthy
There Are countless memories from a childhood spent in Berlin, but John Brooks recalls the foundation for his career with clarity and conviction.
Brooks received an inquiry from his older brothers when he was just five years old. His brothers played soccer in the neighborhood surrounding the family home. One day, they asked him whether he wanted to join the game. As the U.S. Men’s National Team and Hertha Berlin defender now shares, he told them he’d give it a try.
“It was my two brothers and another guy,” Brooks told ussoccer.com recently outside his team’s training facility in Berlin. “He was a little bit older, but he still came down and played with us. It was just grass. We just played there. No goals, nothing. We just kicked the ball around and ran after it.”
From that day forward, Brooks played without fail. The game consumed him. He tucked a ball under his arm, found some free space and kicked it around wherever he went. He took a few extra minutes to return home when his mother called him inside for dinner. He soaked up the strict and vital lessons laid out by one of his first coaches and took them to heart.
Most importantly, Brooks allowed himself to step away from reality and dream about the future from time to time. When he did, he wondered whether he could one day rise to the pinnacle of the game in his hometown.
“I was born in Berlin and ever since I was kicking the ball around I wanted to play for the big team in Berlin and the big team is Hertha,” Brooks said. “I like Hertha a lot.”