Marcos Matthews has overcome each obstacle in his life by harnessing grit and resilience.
Before Marcos earned a defense position on the Spanish futbol team, CD Leganés, he was just a kid from Simi Valley California, struggling with his parent’s divorce and the stressful childhood that followed.
Marcos’s parents divorced when he was just 10-months-old, and his dad took custody of Marcos and his brother while his mother “took the house, furniture, and car.” Marcos, looked up to his dad: a successful businessman and loving father. But he also remembers how challenging it was for his Dad to raise the boys alone.
When Marcos was 5, he started making visits to his mom’s, alternating weeks between two households. Over time, he slowly built a relationship with his mother. While his mom didn’t have a stable job, struggled day to day, and lived in a tiny apartment, Marcos saw that she was a fighter. She made each decision with her boys’ best interest in mind, and Marcos realized later in life that his mom’s decision to give up custody when he was little was truly what she believed was best for him.
As a small child, Marcos struggled in his non-traditional family circumstances. He remembers feeling angry, throwing anything he could get his hands on. Marcos’ Dad noticed this anger brewing in his son, but rather than punishing his son for these emotions, he had an idea: sports. Soon young Marcos was throwing the baseball from third to home plate, and his athletic journey began.
Marcos went to play baseball, then basketball, but his short stature and difficulty shooting the ball earned him a spot on the bench for the rest of the season. But rather than give up altogether, Marcos looked for an alternative. He recalls watching his brother play soccer, mesmerized by the complexity of the sport, the way the ball moved, the way the teammates worked together. Excited about the idea of becoming a soccer player, Marcos strapped on a set of shin guards and cleats and joined a rec league team.
Playing soccer helped Marcos overcome his struggle of searching for a perfect family. He found community and support amongst his teammates. Soccer practice became home, the place where he excelled. But as for all kids, soccer could not be everything. Marcos struggled in school both socially and academically. He was diagnosed with dyslexia and fought each day to be more than “the boy with a disability.”
Unwilling to accept less than his best, Marcos took matters into his own hands. He made a schedule: every morning he would complete a hill run, attend his classes, and train with the high school team. Once done with practice, he would go to the park to practice his soccer skills independently.
Marcos’s dedication to his development as a soccer player earned him a spot training with Real South California Academy, one of the top teams in the nation. There, he learned to play faster and more intelligently, dominating his area of the field. Marcos wasn’t a natural born soccer star. He worked tirelessly at his sport. He believes that grit is just as, if not more important than talent, and he continues to work hard every day.
Marcos faced many life experiences that tested his spirit and challenged his passions, but he was strong-willed and always kept moving forward. When a coach who told him he wasn’t ready to play for a top team in Madrid, Marcos kept his head up until he earned three-week trials with Marcet in Barcelona, FC Malaga City in Malaga and CD Leganés in Leganés. Marcos
does not let rejection defeat him. His resilience and determination elevated him to the place he is today.
Even though he has been unstoppable in the field, Marcos wants to be seen as more than just an athlete. He hopes that his story motivates young aspiring athletes to hold onto their dreams, work hard, stay gritty, and never give up, no matter what.