What's in a name?

Navas Cobo pays tribute to grandfather with jersey choice

Francisco Navas Cobo on the pitch

Photo Credit: 
Houston Dynamo

For the Dynamo's newest, youngest player, just signing a professional
contract at the age of 18 was not enough of a gift for his grandfather.
No, Francisco Navas went one step further and put his grandfather's last
name, Cobo, on the orange Dynamo jersey in honor of the man who shared
his dream of soccer.

"My grandpa ... is the most important part of my heart," Navas Cobo
said. "He's the best for me, and I want to give him happiness from now
on and thank him for all his hard work all these years. For all the
effort and all the things he has done for me and all the things he
taught me, I decided to put Cobo, his last name, into my jersey to honor
him."

Sinecio Cobo, who helped raise Francisco for so many years in Cali,
Colombia, was on hand Tuesday to see his grandson, who only turned 18 in
November, sign a professional contract and hold up a professional
jersey for the first time.

The eldest Cobo was just part of the family contingent on hand for
Francisco Navas Cobo's big day. In fact, his extended family - including
aunts Debora Cobo and Claudia P. Cobo - has been there in Houston from
the start. From tryouts for the Dynamo Academy to his first day training
with the Dynamo first team to the preseason tournament in Orlando where
he cemented his roster spot. It is just part of a significant support
network as Navas makes the sizable transition to the professional level.

"These are the first steps on a long road, hopefully, for him," Dynamo
Director of Youth Development James Clarkson said. "There are ups and
downs, and it's going to be difficult, but with the support he has from
his family, us in the Academy, and the Dynamo organization, he'll be
able to deal with those setbacks - because there will be setbacks - and
he's going to learn there's more to being a professional soccer player
than just skill."

Navas Cobo has definitely begun to pick up on those differences,
identified as a quick learner by head coach Dominic Kinnear.

"One thing we wanted to see was his ability to learn, which he did,"
Kinnear said, having earlier mentioned Navas Cobo's improvement in
defensive work rate and positioning. "He figures out the game pretty
well. It's a long way away before he's a regular in our team, but the
decision for us to give him the chance - it was easy."

Easy for the Dynamo coaching staff, perhaps, but while Navas Cobo was
warned that the hard work is still to come, Tuesday was a celebration of
all the hard work that had come before. Sacrifices from his family,
moves back and forth between Houston and Cali, long hours spent playing
and practicing, beginning preseason with a broken arm. All this hard
work allowed Navas Cobo to take that extra step and sign for the Dynamo
first team, honoring his grandfather in the process.

"I want to thank my family, my aunt, my grandfather, and my mom, who's
not here, but I know she's supporting me," Navas Cobo said. "I want to
thank all the Houston Dynamo fans and all the people in here supporting
me. It's a dream come true."

With this dream accomplished, Navas Cobo will now try to go one step
further on the field, carrying his grandfather's name to glory.