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SAFC's homegrown star staying focused on postseason push while getting attention of European clubs

Jose Gallegos signed his first pro contract with SAFC after winning four straight high school titles. Coaches say his future looks just as bright.

SAN ANTONIO — There's often pressure with being the hometown kid on the big stage. 

Jose Gallegos, who just turned 20 years old in September, is playing professional soccer in his native city. It's no small feat to him.

“It’s really a dream, to play in front of your family, friends, you know, people you grow up with and have to see them in the stands almost every game. It’s a beautiful thing,” he says.

After winning four straight Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state titles with Central Catholic High School, Gallegos signed his first pro deal with SAFC in 2019.

He had participated in the club's Elite Training Program prior to joining the team.

Last season, Gallegos was a finalist for USL's Young Player of the Year. Fast-forward a year, and he's made good on his promise, becoming a key player in the club's pursuit of a United Soccer League Championship Title. He's tied for second in goals scored among the team and is third in minutes played throughout the season.

Head coach Alen Marcina says he’s shown tremendous growth, both as a player and a person.

“Jose’s an amazing human being. He’s been raised incredibly well. He's got fantastic parents and is very, very close to his family,” Marcina said.

“Through his actions on the field game in and game out, he’s extremely consistent," the coach added. "Very, very mature for a 20-year-old, and he’s still got tremendous growth ahead of him."

And other clubs around the world are taking notice.

Prior to this season, Gallegos trained for two weeks with global soccer powerhouses Bayern Munich in Germany and FC Barcelona in Spain, two clubs regularly competing for the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top club soccer competition.

“I think the whole experience was surreal. Being at that high level, I’ve seen the highest level and been in that environment, so like I said it’s an extra boost for me to know I can get there someday,” Gallegos said. “As a kid my age, we dream big and that’s what I’m trying to do."

Despite the attention, Gallegos is focused on winning a title with his current team.

"Right now I'm here in San Antonio, so I'm just working my way up and then putting my trust in God," he said. 

Gallegos also credits his family both inside and outside the club for making his dream a reality.

“Just being at home, and being here and (the club) allowing me to have this opportunity, it just gives me that extra boost,” Gallegos said.

“He’s going to have a big career," Marcina added. "He’s going to make not only SAFC but all of San Antonio very proud."

SAFC will host the San Diego Loyals at 8 p.m. Friday at Toyota Field as its postseason quest begins. Gallegos says he's looking forward to play in front of his parents.

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