Javier Hernandez is potentially set to go down in football history as one of the more underrated strikers of his generation, with the Mexican now celebrating his 34th birthday.
The Mexican – affectionately nicknamed Chicharito, meaning ‘The Little Pea’ – has scored 193 goals so far throughout his career with another 52 for his national side. During that time, he has lifted silverware aplenty with two Premier League titles, the Europa League, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Gold Cup with Mexico.
That record – and indeed medal haul – would be the envy of a number of players around the world. He certainly played his part and more in those various successes.
Hernandez arrived at Manchester United shortly before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and having caught the eye at the tournament, showed no signs of failing to adapt to life at Old Trafford. Despite having been limited to a bit-part role, he still managed to find the net on 20 occasions in all competitions during his debut campaign and continued to display his goalscoring instinct during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure.
Despite that, he has still reflected on a major regret during his time at Old Trafford having never failed to string together a consistent run of games. Speaking with FourFourTwo, he said: “I never had the chance to play 20 games in a row so people could say: ‘He’s a good player who should stay’ or ‘He can’t be the star; he’s not a good player’.
“Ask the United fans. The numbers are there. I started only 85 games at United and I scored 60 goals [in total].”
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Having stayed with United for four seasons, Hernandez’s career then took a different turn. Then Red Devils’ boss David Moyes
shipped him out on loan to Real Madrid,
where he scored nine goals including a winner in the Champions League quarter-finals against Atletico Madrid.
That was not enough to earn him a permanent move to the Santiago Bernabeu though. It looked like he had finally found another home with German outfit Bayer Leverkusen, with Hernandez at his prolific best at the BayArena.
He netted 39 goals in 76 appearances for the Bundesliga club over two seasons but was once again soon on the move once more, this time as he returned to the Premier League with West Ham. Subsequent switches to Sevilla and LA Galaxy followed, with Hernandez seemingly heartbroken at the prospect of waving goodbye to top-level European football.
In a video clip, Hernandez, addressing his family with his head in his hands and seemingly in tears, said: “I wanted to speak to you guys because the thing is about to get done.
“It’s almost certain that I’m going to LA. It’s okay, everything is perfect, it’s only that, well it’s like the beginning of my retirement.”
Despite those claims, Hernandez’s career has found a second wind in the United States. He has continued his prolific displays in Miami – as he has done throughout his career – and now captains the side.
Whilst he continues to show the trademark goalscoring instincts on the pitch, the emotional turmoil has continued off of it for the 109-time Mexican international. Having split from his Sarah Kohan, he went a year without seeing his own children and admitted that he was not fulfilling his role as a father.
In an emotional interview with Mexican network ViX, Hernandez said: “I have not wanted them to know and to know that, but yes, they are the two beings I love the most in my life. I would love for things to be different, they are not being and there is nothing left but to juice it up, to learn.
“It is very hard [to be away from them]. I haven’t shown it, but these two years people have said and talked about me being a bad father when they have no idea because I haven’t posted [on social media] anything, so how are they going to know if I’m a good father or not. But yes I have experienced a lot of pain, a lot.
“I haven’t wanted them to know about it, but they are the two people I love the most in my life. I wasn’t the best partner I needed to be, I wasn’t the best father I wanted to be. I wasn’t a great friend. I wasn’t the great human being I wanted to be.”
Whilst the emotional overhaul does not seem to be abating for the Man United cult hero, he can be assured that his recognition on the pitch for all of his various employers will not go unnoticed. For that alone, he will certainly be set to go down as one of the most underrated strikers of his generation.