The Houston Dynamo's Boniek Garcia, the man with the enormous and captivating smile and a leader in the midfield for club and country, is not just a father himself, but today will also celebrate one of the most important things he inherited from his father – a love for soccer.
His father, Oscar Garcia, was a professional soccer player for Olimpia, one of Honduras' biggest clubs, where Boniek also spent two spells, including a five-year stint before joining Houston. And the similarities between father and son don't end there.
The elder Garcia left Honduras looking for a better life in the United States when his wife Ana was pregnant with Boniek, leaving the mother to raise her son in their homeland, where he would go two decades without seeing his father.
At the age of just 20 years, though, the current Houston Dynamo midfielder was called up to the Honduras national team for a friendly match in Boston, which allowed him to finally meet his father for the first time.
"I was very excited, but it wasn't a happiness that brought tears to my eyes," Boniek told the Houston Chronicle. "I was very happy to finally meet my father after 20 years of just talking to him on the telephone. I felt happy, but I didn't cry or anything."
In the same manner, after signing with the Dynamo midway through last season, Boniek reunited with his father, and every time he has the opportunity to face the New York Red Bulls he meets back up with his father, who lives in the New York area, as he also did during a recent friendly between Honduras and Israel.
"My relationship with him has been very good, despite the fact that we only communicate via telephone," Boniek explained on FutbolMLS.com's Tiro Libre podcast. "It was very important [to resume my relationship with my father] that for many years I cold not share with him, and now that I'm here [in the US], we try to communicate daily. I'm very fortunate to have the support of him being here."
Of course, Boniek is a father too. His daughter Lourdes was born four years ago to his long-term girlfriend, Ivania Reyes, and the mother and child still live in Honduras together, much like Boniek lived with his mother while his dad worked in the US.
"He never gives up," Reyes told the Houston Chronicle of her boyfriend's mentality. "He is always striving and never stops smiling."
He is currently with the Honduran national team in San Jose, Calif., ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifying clash with the United States in Salt Lake City (8:30 pm CT, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), meaning he was not be able to spend Father's Day with Lourdes. However, Boniek made sure to take full advantage of the time he spent recently in his homeland, where he scored a goal in the Catrachos' 2-0 qualifying win over Jamaica.
"In Honduras I was with her," Boniek explained. "And thank God I was able to score a goal [for her]."
This article originally appeared in Spanish on FutbolMLS.com.