Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has the ideal chance to whet the appetites of Manchester United fans assuming he gets to start in Mexico's crucial FIFA World Cup™ encounter with France on Thursday in Polokwane. Hernandez will head to Old Trafford in a reported seven-million pound deal having caught United's eye with seven goals in his first dozen appearances for his country and after impressing for Guadalajara side Chivas since making his debut in 2006.
Mexico's fans will be hoping for big things from the man they have dubbed "Chicharito", or "Little Pea", who has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a FIFA World Cup player. "Big Pea" was his father, former player Javier Hernandez Gutierrez, who earned the nickname for his green eyes.
Now the 22-year-old Hernandez and Arsenal's Carlos Vela, 21, will carry the hopes of some 105 million Mexicans into the game against the French. It's an encounter Vela says will be a case of "kill or be killed" with all four sides in the group having one point from their opening match after Uruguay held the French.
Mexicans always have a soft spot for big-hearted centre forwards such as Hugo Sanchez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, still in the squad and at 37 almost old enough to be the father of his fellow strikers. Hernandez says he is itching for a bigger slice of the action against the French having had just 17 minutes against South Africa on Friday, when he came on for Guillermo Franco.
As Vela has indicated, a loss is likely to mean elimination and yet Hernandez says he does not feel nervous about the responsibility which could be about to fall on his inexperienced shoulders. "I am calm, as I have always said this is a team game. We win together and we lose together. Whoever scores is immaterial. The important thing is to go out and look for a win and deliver it," says the Guadalajara-born youngster who only turned 22 the week the squad arrived in South Africa.
Hernandez has enjoyed a dizzy rise in his fortunes. By the age of nine he was playing for the local Chivas junior side and by 18 was in the first team. On September 9, 2006, he came on and scored with virtually his first touch in a league match against Necaxa, quickly becoming a fan favourite at a club where his grandfather Tomas Balcazar had starred as well as his father.
"It was a wonderful feeling to don the same shirt as they had before me," Hernandez recalls. His father made the 1986 FIFA World Cup squad and his grandfather was in the 1954 team.
A goal every other game in his first season alerted other clubs to his talents with first PSV Eindhoven, Wolfsburg and Valencia all tracking him before United landed him after dangling a five-year deal starting next month.
Although no giant at 1.77m, he reads the game well and displays considerable penalty area cunning. Injury forced him to miss Mexico's 2005 under-17 world championship triumph, but four of that generation - Giovani Dos Santos, Vela, Efrain Juarez and Hector Moreno -- are with him in the senior squad this summer.