George Bello cannot catch a damn break.
Just about as soon as the promising homegrown left back had recovered from a scary head injury in a preseason game against Birmingham Legion in February, soccer stopped due to a pandemic.
Bello spoke with Dirty South Soccer before the stoppage of play following his 45-minute stint with Atlanta United 2 in their first and, to date, only game played in the 2020 USL season — a 0-1 loss to the Charleston Battery on March 8.
“I’m feeling much better,” said Bello. “Concussion is gone and my head is all clear again. The injury is gone and I’m feeling good. The 45 [minutes] I just played felt good, so all back to normal. I want to keep on improving myself, keep on playing and staying healthy is my priority this year. I just want to keep on developing myself and see where it goes.”
So far, Bello’s career has been beset by a smattering of injuries — including one major groin issue that kept him from playing for half of last season and had been an ongoing issue for many months prior to surgery. With the unpredictable nature of injuries and circumstances like the ones facing him and his teammates now, he stays away from setting quantifiable benchmarks to achieve.
“I set goals, but my main goal is just to work hard,” said Bello. “I know it’s a generic kind of thing, but as you work hard and as you show yourself, good things will come. It’s just about having that mentality every time you go out there whether it be practice or games. Just go out there and give it 100 percent, working hard and good things will eventually come.”
Bello traveled with the team to Mexico for the first leg of the team’s still incomplete tie against Club America in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League — a hopeful sign that the young left back is still in the sights of manager Frank de Boer. Atlanta United’s manager has been reticent to identify Bello and several other youngsters as players that fans can expect to see on a regular basis. But, when healthy, Bello has been a regular presence at first team training under De Boer, and Bello appreciates what he’s learning under the former world class left back.
“We have a lot of great players to learn from,” said Bello. “From Frank, he’s giving me good advice on my specific position, both little things and big things. I just listen and then try to show it on the field — applying it to my game.”