People often do something they enjoy because it creates a short-term happiness that is numbing and repetitive but very few venture into something they are passionate about regardless of risks and budget. At a young age, I crossed paths with something that called me by name and entered my life in a blink of an eye.

Soccer was my passion; it filled the hiatus that a young athlete dreams of.

My life with soccer is far from being over, even after my retirement from three knee surgeries, and continues to be a treasured passion of mine.

My first team was named the “Varmints” and was coached by my Dad. Even at four years old, so much pressure was already on me. The coach’s son cannot be the worst player or you’ll basically be a family embarrassment. This mental picture motivated me to score goal after goal and zip past opponents to steal the ball and outperform my fellow teammates.

This newly discovered skill only grabbed more and more of my attention that led to several more years of soccer. I remember making a lot of friends from soccer because nearly everyone from my school district joined a team.

From then, only the biggest and brightest soccer players took their talents to a whole new level.

It wasn’t until the age of 9 when I started playing competitive soccer. North Texas is extremely prominent in youth soccer so I was put in my place almost instantly. No more scrappy teams with fat goalkeepers and uncoordinated defenders; every team played to win.

I played for many different clubs like ASG, River Plate, Andromeda, and Liverpool but my most impactful seasons were with a club called AYSES. Its acronym means “Advanced Youth Soccer Educational System” and it very much was. We were the 7th best team in North Texas and competed in prestigious tournaments swarming with college scouts. I was given a new position and was expected to perform my job at the highest level with the maximum amount of effort.

Struggling was normal but not tolerable; my coach was a knowledgeable player and experienced teacher so his observation meant the world to me. AYSES was a remedy for me and wanted to reach my senior year with five seasons as a member.

My career abruptly ended after tearing my ACL my junior year of high school during a critical game in our schedule. The mix of disbelief and pain was the toughest pill I’ve had to swallow. I distinctly remember the recovery process. It was exhausting and expensive but I was recovering so I could play again.

After six optimistic months of physical therapy, I stepped foot on the pitch and within minutes I ironically took a step backward by tearing my scar tissue and medial meniscus. My third surgery also came from soccer and re-tear of my ACL.

Soccer was ultimately my downfall, which was not expected but apparently inevitable.

I refused to give up soccer initially but saw the logic is retiring my broken knee in the name of trauma.

However, to this day I watch plenty of live soccer and always watch highlights from my favorite teams and collect their jerseys. I also avidly play FIFA with my friends and log almost 200 games in a year. My passion hasn’t stumbled even when I have and serves as a monumental part of my life that takes credit for how I learned to work hard and why it means so much to me and billions of other people.

So if you played soccer and a jersey with the number 11 got the best of you, chances are you’ve crossed paths with no other than the author himself.