Dennis Lopez (yellow jersey) looks to play the ball up field during a training session with Guatemala ahead of its August 14, 2014, friendly against visiting Nicaragua.
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala -- Dennis Lopez, a Honduran teacher, will represent Guatemala internationally in football.
As a youth, the now 28-year-old -- born in Trujillo, Honduras -- concentrated on academics, while also playing football and basketball, reaching regional championship levels in both sports.
He graduated with a degree in education and worked at a school located near the beaches of the Caribbean Sea. Football, though, proved to be a powerful attraction. The 6-foot-1 defender ultimately decided to join Deportes Savio.
Known for his speed and aerial ability, Lopez caught the attention of Guatemalan side Petapa, which signed him in 2009. He quickly became a defensive leader, also playing with Deportivo Mixco and Marquense, before inking a contract with Municipal in June 2013.
Now, with the Copa Centroamericana just a few weeks away, Lopez finds himself in the Guatemala national team camp ahead of Thursday’s friendly against visiting Nicaragua.
It will be the Chapines’ first game under new head coach Ivan Franco Sopegno, who prefers to use a backline of three defenders, a tactic that has added to Lopez’s comfort level.
"I am grateful to God and to the coaching staff that trusts my work," an excited Lopez told CONCACAF.com. "I hope to convince and proudly represent Guatemala.”
Lopez is following in the steps of other Honduras-born players to wear the Bicolor jersey, including midfielder Rigoberto Gomez and Oscar Isaula.
He does not feel out of place in his new surroundings.
"The group was as expected,” said Lopez. “I am treated like everyone, nobody excludes me for being Honduran. I feel good. I worked like everyone else and that motivates me. I hope to earn a spot on the roster that will go to the Copa Centroamericana.
“I want to do great things with Guatemala.”