Manchester United’s Mexican striker Javier Hernandez paid tribute to his grandfather after scoring in the World Cup last night – then promptly spoke of a painful past season.
The 26-year-old scored his first goal for his country in over a year in the 3-1 defeat of Croatia to help Mexico secure a place in the last 16.
There they will play new United boss Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands and Hernandez is hopeful he can impress the 62-year-old and then begin a happier chapter in his Old Trafford career.
“This whole year has been very tough. Players need confidence more than anything else, and I’ve been very short of it,” said Hernandez, nicknamed ‘Little Pea’ and who was officially the fastest player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“Very few people have shown faith in me over this past year.
“I’d like to dedicate this to my grandfather, who’s about to turn 85, but has still made the effort to be here [in Brazil],” he said.
Hernandez’s other grandfather, 82-year-old Tomas Balcazar, played in the 1954 World Cup for Mexico.
“It’s for all those who’ve been with me in the good times and the bad, like my wife and my family. They know that I’m always happy to work hardest during the toughest times,” added Hernandez.
The striker said despite his 36th strike in 65 appearances for Mexico, football was so much in his blood he does not place too much importance on scoring.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted. But I just enjoy playing football, I love having fun on the field,” he said.
“I’ve had games where a lot of people said I played really well, even without having a single shot on goal.
“That’s one of the nice things about football, it’s not only about scoring goals. Of course they’re important, but, when you’re a footballer, you also need to work with your teammates and put them first.”
Hernandez will certainly not be putting his current United teammate Robin van Persie first when it comes to Sunday’s knockout clash, though the pacey Mexican was full of praise for his colleague.
“Robin is a great centre-forward. He’s got incredible technique which makes him world class, while he’s one of the quickest strikers around,” said Hernandez.
“I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s helped me so much.”
Main image courtesy of Duran Mx via YouTube, with thanks.