At every major tournament, young players get the opportunity to make names for themselves on the grand stage. The big winner at Euro 2016 has been Antoine Griezmann, whose quickness on the ball and clinical finishing helped send France to the tournament’s final match.
With a nickname like “The Baby-Faced Assassin, it’s hard not to like Griezmann. The French star who developed in Spain was instrumental in Atletico Madrid’s run to the Champions League final, and at 25 is becoming one of the best players in the sport.
Griezmann got his start with Real Sociedad in Spain, and that’s where he met girlfriend Erika Choperena. The pair have been together since 2011, and while Erika isn’t as well-known as her boyfriend, she keeps fans happy with pictures of the couple on her Twitter feed.
Here’s what you need to know about Griezmann and Choperena:
1. The Couple Met While Griezmann Was Playing in Spain
Griezmann and Choperena met in Spain, where Choperena was attending school and working on a beauty blog. She is currently pursuing a degree in education, and doesn’t share much about her personal life. Griezmann left his home in France for Spanish football at 13 years old, and met his current girlfriend shortly after signing his first professional contract.
In April, Choperena gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter named Mia.
2. Antoine & Erika Have Different Primary Languages
Choperena may sit with the French supporters during Euro, but her language of choice is Spanish. Griezmann has spent most of his life playing in Spain, and is often ribbed by French media about his Spanish background. When Griezmann made his debut for the French national team, he hadn’t lived in the country for eight years.
In interviews, Griezmann has stated how important it is that his household speak both languages. Although it is difficult, the couple would like Mia to be able to talk to both her mother and father’s families without any language barriers.
3. Antoine Celebrates His Goals With a Tribute to Baby Mia
Griezmann has done plenty of celebrating at Euro 2016, and he’s worked a special move into his dance routine. The striker, who leads all players with six goals in the tournament, is beset-known for busting out his impression of Drake’s dance from the artist’s “Hotline Bling” music video.
During the dance, Griezmann also puts his thumb in his mouth and points to the camera, a tribute to his newborn daughter.
4. Griezmann Was Discovered by Accident & Developed in Spain
France are delighted at Griezmann’s performance at Euro, but it almost never happened. As an undersized young boy, Griezmann was turned down by French clubs at every youth tryout he attended. It wasn’t until he was discovered by a Spanish scout, who wasn’t looking for youth players and certainly nobody in France, that he received the opportunity of a lifetime.
Eric Olhats was a first-team scout for Real Sociedad in 2005, when he stopped by the training grounds of Paris-Saint Germain to visit a friend. That’s where he spotted the 13-year old Griezmann, and gave the youngster an envelope with his business card. Griezmann moved in with Olhats to get acclimated to the lifestyle, and ended up living with his future mentor for six years.
5. Griezmann Leads France in Scoring at Euro 2016
If France win another Euro title on Sunday, they can send a thank-you card to Olhats. Griezmann has been lightning for the French national team, creating a total of eight goals in the tournament.
His finest performance was in the semifinal, when he scored a brace against Germany. The striker has a knack for scoring in huge moments, including a brace against Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals. He’s currently still under contract with Atletico Madrid, but that won’t stop the world’s best teams from inquiring about him for years to come.