Watch the video above to see Brooks’ game winning goal against Ghana in the first game of the 2014 World Cup.
Here’s what you need to know about the standout player:
1. He’s the First Substitute in U.S. History to Score in the World Cup
Ironically, Brooks was not included in Klinsmann’s starting lineup for the U.S.A.’s first game of the World Cup against their longtime rivals, Ghana.
Matt Besler was taken out of the game towards the end because he was feeling pain in his hamstrings, to Klinsmann pulled him out in fear that it would get more serious.
Brooks was called into the game to take over on the back line for the USMNT, but ended up surprising everyone on the front line with an unbelievable header in the 86th minute of the game to clinch the victory for the USMNT, who were originally the underdogs.
2. He Has Never Lived in the United States
Brooks was born and raised in Berlin, Germany where his father has been stationed for the U.S. military for 29 years. His mother, a German native is a German citizen while his father is a United States citizen, giving Brooks dual-nationality. Although Brooks has never lived in the United States, he has visited his family in Chicago, where his father is from originally.
His parents were divorced and remarried eventually. His father, John Brooks Sr., currently resides in Switzerland with his half brother while his sister and mother still live in Berlin.
Brooks represented Germany for the first time when he was recruited to the German U-20 team. Although he has switched between the countries, he is prefers to play for the United States in international events.
Brooks told the NY Times after being recruited for Germany’s U-20 Team:
“The United States is still my first choice. Playing for the German team was O.K. but America was a lot better. My father would like me to play for the United States but he said it was my decision. I like Tab Ramos, I think he’s a good coach and will bring us to the World Cup next year. The U-20 World Cup next year is a top goal for me.”
3. He Turned Down Bayern, Munich for Hertha BSC
After Brooks’ first season in 2010, Brooks was looking to sign his first professional contract with a team in the UEFA Champions League. He enjoyed playing for Hertha, but wanted to exercize his options when other big name teams showed interest in him.
The most prominent team to seek out Brooks was Bayern Munich. Bayern offered Brooks a contract, but instead Brooks decided to sign a four-year contract to stay with Hertha. Many people wondered why he would choose Hertha over one of the most dominant clubs in the world.
He told the NY Times:
“No it was not a tough decision. I chose Hertha because I wanted to play. I think will have more chance to play with Hertha than with Bayern Munich.”
4. He’s One of 4 German Dual-National Players for the U.S.
— ErVaN (@ervan25) June 17, 2014
There are now four players on the U.S. Men’s National Team roster that have had the opportunity choose between Germany and the U.S. and have chosen to represent the U.S. in the 2014 World Cup. Midfielder Fabian Johnson, defender John Anthony Brooks, right back Timothy Chandler and forward Julian Green were all born or grew up in Germany.
All four of these players are considered top players on the team. Critics say the key to the USA’s success in the World Cup could be these dual-national players.
5. He Was Born to Be a Defender
Brooks is one of the biggest physical presences on any soccer field at 6 feet 5 inches. He is known to have great passing skills and a solid and consistent left foot, making him a force to be reckoned with on the back line.
At the age of 21 he appears to still be growing and can continue to improve as he gains strength and experience. Watch the video above to view his interview in the “One Nation. One Team. 23 Stories” series.