There’s no denying that San Jose Earthquakes general manager John Doyle – and the rest of the staff, for that matter – worked hard to bring in Geovanni as the club’s first designated player.
But the most fundamental person, the x in the Quakes' equation, was undoubtedly André Luiz.
“Without André, [Geovanni's signing] would never have happened,” Doyle said Friday.
The veteran midfielder and the Quakes’ newest incorporation forged a strong friendship in Brazil, when both coincided in Cruzeiro.
“We played together in Cruzeiro… 10 years ago. Coincidentally, we were roommates that year and we forged a great friendship, even though it was just one year [that we played together],” said André Luiz.
Though they spoke just once since then – when André Luiz, with Tenerife, played against Geovanni and Barcelona – their friendship remained.
It was that friendship that enabled André Luiz to just pick up the phone and give Geovanni a call after Hull City released the Brazilian playmaker at the end of the 2009-10 English Premier League season.
“John Doyle asked me if I knew Geovanni and I said yes, that I knew him well and had played with him,” explained André Luiz. “[Doyle] asked me if I could do something to get [Geovanni] to come here, so I spoke to [Geovanni] directly, then spoke to his agent.
“My participation in the talks were a huge positive because Geovanni knew me, [and he] asked me a lot about the club, the life here, the group,” continued André Luiz. “I told him that this is a great city, that the quality of life is great, that the league is growing, that he would love it and that I was here to give him a helping hand.”
The fact that André Luiz offered his help meant the world to Geovanni, who chose to come to San Jose over offers from Germany, Turkey and Brazil.
“He told me that because of me and what I said, that he would come to San Jose because it’s important to know someone when you go someplace new,” said André Luiz.[inline_node:316412]
“Andre is a great friend of mine,” Geovanni said, “so he was fundamental for me to come here. I had last read on the Internet that André was playing in Mexico. Then I got a call from him and he said, ‘Geovanni, I’m [in San Jose] and the club is interested in you.’”
André Luiz told Geovanni all about the wonders of living in San Jose. He told his new teammate about the good schools, the great quality of life and, the most important thing for every good Brazilian, the sunny weather and the proximity to the beaches.
“André said, ‘Geovanni, you’ll adapt well to the league. Life is good here – the sun, the weather, the city and the schools. He said everything was good,” explained Geovanni, who’s in the process of bringing his family – wife Roberta, 9-year-old daughter Geovanna and 5-year-old son Daniel – from Brazil.
But the one thing André Luiz chose to omit? His season-ending injury and surgery.
“I didn’t tell him I was injured because maybe he wouldn’t come! But he had a few words for me when I saw him,” André Luiz said, laughing.
“André said, ‘Geovanni, come so we can play together,” said Geovanni. “Then, when I got to the airport and saw André [in a knee brace and crutches], I asked him, ‘André, what happened?’
“He never mentioned that he was injured. But André has a lot experience and he was smart [to not tell me about his injury],” Geovanni said with a smile.
Nevertheless, the only thing that saddens Geovanni is that he won’t get to share the pitch with his friend this year.
“I’m a little sad because Andre’s hurt and I was hoping we’d play together,” Geovanni said. “[But] I’m very happy and thank Andre because he’s helped me. He’s a great friend and a great person."