LA Galaxy duo Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos are visualizing themselves being in Juan Carlos Osorio’s Mexico squad for Russia 2018 and are hoping they will finally experience a World Cup together.
Jonathan dos Santos was cut from the 24-player pre-World Cup squad in 2010 by coach Javier Aguirre just days before the tournament began in South Africa, leaving brother Giovani distraught and father Zizinho saying that Jonathan would never play for Mexico again.
Four years later, the younger Dos Santos brother missed Brazil 2014 through injury, but both have been regulars in El Tri squads this World Cup cycle under Osorio.
“I see [us being in Russia] because of how we have prepared, how we’ve suffered in the past, what we’ve shared,” said Jonathan dos Santos in an interview with ESPN. “This is our moment.”
“Our dream is to be on the pitch together, be starters, enjoy the fans, the family and above all enjoy ourselves on the pitch.”
This World Cup cycle has seen central midfielder Jonathan’s role with Mexico increase and he was one of El Tri‘s best performers at last summer’s Confederations Cup, but forward Giovani currently has a hamstring injury and is yet to get going properly this year after a poor 2017 for club and country.
“[Playing together at the World Cup] is an extra motivation,” added Giovani. “I totally [see us being in Russia]. If not, we’d have both retired.”
“The dream of every footballer and why we train and work is to reach the top and a World Cup is the top.”
“You see us playing, but you don’t see the work that we do, the sacrifice, all the training and preparation and I can say that we’ve worked very hard to be at our best this year.”
Jonathan and Giovani cried together for an hour back in 2010 when the younger brother was trimmed from Aguirre’s squad. And Jonathan is keen not to go back over what is clearly an issue that still hurts.
“I was very young and in the end, the past is the past, I don’t want to remember it,” said Jonathan, who stressed he has seen and greeted Aguirre since then.
The Barcelona youth team products are confident that Mexico can have a strong World Cup in Russia and 28-year-old Giovani, if selected, will go to Europe with the idea of winning the tournament.
“You can’t go with the mentality [of not winning] … I’ve always gone with the conviction of becoming champion,” said Giovani. “I remember before the Under-17 World Cup [in 2005] they asked us in the airport what we were going to achieve at the World Cup and we said to be champions. People literally laughed in our faces and we were 15.”
“We have a great team, great players and great quality. We’ve forged a great group … We have quite a complete team and I’m hopeful that it will be an important World Cup for Mexico.”
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.