NYCFC's newest Designated Player, the compact and creative Maxi Moralez, hails from Fray Luis Beltran, Argentina, a city of just 14,000 residents.
From his modest roots, the midfielder has grown to reach towering heights during his career, spanning stints in Serie A and the Argentinian National Team.
"My first team was Racing Club in Buenos Aires," remembers Maxi. "I played all my youth levels there until reaching the first team."
He progressed quickly, surprising even himself at how well things were going.
"My debut was at 18 years old," he says. "I honestly didn't expect to debut at such a young age."
Maxi made a name for himself in the Argentinian league before being sold to FC Moscow in Russia. As he recalls, he spent very little time there before rejoining Racing in 2009. After that, it was off to fellow Argentine club Velez Sarsfield. After winning two championships there, he headed to Italy and Serie A with Atalanta.
"European soccer gives you many things," waxes Maxi philosophically.
"It teaches you many lessons. It makes you play with the best in the world."
During his stretch with Atalanta, Maxi earned a cap for his national team, and he also met a future teammate: Andrea Pirlo.
"I've played against Andrea many times," he says. "I never expected to have him as a teammate.
Maxi's birthplace of Fray Luis Beltran lies just outside Argentine port city Avellaneda, where he spent most of his youth with Racing Club.
Avellaneda makes up part of the Greater Buenos Aires area, making it a major industrial center. With over 329,000 residents, it is home to two major clubs, Racing and Independiente. The two clubs each have their own stadium, separated by barely a city block.
Avellaneda has produced several prominent tango singers, including Eladia Blazquez, Adriana Varela, and Angela Torres. Several Argentine politicians, artists, historians, and writers grew up in the city as well, including Salvador Debenedetti, who helped restore the ancient Pucara di Tilcara, and was later a member of the International Congress of Americanists.
Argentina's two biggest clubs are two of the world's most prominent clubs outside of Europe. Boca Juniors and River Plate lead the way, and have each produced more than their fair share of world class players and championship-winning seasons.
Between them, they've won four Intercontinental Cups, nine Copa Libertadores titles, and 68 Primera Division titles. Boca Juniors even has their own themed hotel in Buenos Aires. Being from Argentina, they have their own wine, as well.
They're pretty good. Currently, they're ranked third in the world by FIFA, and were painfully close to winning the 2014 World Cup and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016.
La Albiceleste have won two World Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and a Copa America in the past. They also have Leo Messi at their disposal.
Because history often repeats itself, Argentina have rivalries with nations they always seem to face off against on the biggest of stages. Brazil, Uruguay, England, and Germany are among their biggest rivals, and are themselves among the most accomplished national teams on the planet. Real recognize real.
Join Maxi and the rest of the team on Saturday, September 9 at Yankee Stadium as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Get your tickets down.