Aly Hassan holds his son Giovanni during the national anthem during a recent Cosmos game. (Photo courtesy of the Cosmos)
When Aly Hassan lines up for the national anthem prior to Saturday’s home match against the Michigan Stars, he will be clutching something close and dear to his heart — literally and figuratively.
That would be his eight-month-old son Giovanni.
In fact, the 30-year forward has brought Giovanni to several games to Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. this year. Hassan holds up his son, who is wearing a Cosmos green shirt.
“He comes to all the home games, all the games I’ve started at home,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine to walk out with my son and have him out there with me. It’s my passion. It’s what I love to do.”
That passion, of course, is playing the beautiful game.
“I think it’s such a blessing to be able to do that in front of him,” Hassan added.
“It’ll be cool that he’s got the pictures that he was out there with me. So, it’s my bucket list.”
After all, what’s better than father and son bonding in soccer’s version of “Take Your Son to Work Day.”
After the anthem, Hassan passes off Giovanni to team administrator Janine Guarriello, who then hands off the baby to the Cosmos striker’s fiancé, Lisamarie.
Asked if having Giovanni at games helps spur him on, Hassan replied with a smile, “Absolutely. It’s motivation. Once he came into my life, he became my life. He gave me such a big push to keep on pushing to be a better player, a better person. He inspires me because i can be.
“I always wanted to do it even when I didn’t have a kid, seeing other teammates walk out with their son. It was always something that I wanted to do.”
Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes, who has two children himself, felt what Hassan does is pretty cool.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “It means a lot to him. These are special moments. As a father and a former player, these are things that you look back on and you’ll cherish forever. It’s nice to see and it’s good to have him out on the field again. He’s scoring goals. He’s had some injuries this year. So, he has been frustrated and worked hard to get back. We’re just happy to have him and it seems that he’s enjoying it. He’s been very good for us.”
Giovanni hasn’t yet taken his first official step, but he certainly gotten his kicks with a soccer ball.
“He’s still learning to walk,” his father said. “He can stand assisted, but if you put a ball next to him, he’s kicking it. He wants to kick the ball. If you walk with him around, he’ll kick the ball around. He’ll kick it and have you chase with him. Just to go and kick it again.”
So, it just might be, like father, like son someday.
“I hope, I hope so,” Hassan said. “It looks like he’s left-footed, too. So, that’s pretty cool.”