It hasn’t been easy being Javier Hernández lately. Then again, it might have never been that easy. Mexico’s all-time goalscorer has had as many highs as he has had lows. As many praisers as critics. He’s been the face of the Mexican National Team since he stole Mexican hearts before the 2010 World Cup, but lately times have been tough in “The Little Pea’s” world.
Before Saturday’s game-winning goal against South Korea, the 50th of Hernández’s international career, the striker hadn’t scored in the green and white uniform since October 2017 against Trinidad and Tobago. 320 minutes of playing time for Hernández between then and Saturday and zero goals scored.
If that wasn’t enough, Chicharito is also coming off of his worst season in Europe, scoring-wise. CH14 made his return to the English Premier League with West Ham United on July 24, 2017 after two solid seasons at Bayer Leverkusen. Unfortunately for the former Chivas starlet, a managerial change in November 2017 saw the departure of Slaven Bilić and the arrival of David Moyes, a very familiar face to Chicharito, but for the wrong reasons.
Chicharito was out of favor with Moyes during his time at Manchester United, and nothing seemed to have changed while with the Hammers. Chicharito was left on the bench 15 times, started only 16 games and only scored eight goals in the 2017-18 season. For comparison, Chicharito scored nine goals during his brief stint with Real Madrid, when he tallied just 858 minutes of league play. The criticism of course came, something Chicharito knows all too well, as this tweet showed the striker seemingly quoting several criticisms he has received in the past.
Eso es mentira. Fue pura mercadotecnia. De chiripa. De rebote. Es malísimo. Un tronco. De suerte. No le mientan a la gente así por favor. Lo único bueno que hace es rezar dentro de una cancha.Eso fue por puras palancas.Puros goles moleros.Creo que es Photoshop.Aparte escribe mal. https://t.co/8sSXSSd0ip— Chicharito Hernandez (@CH14_) April 3, 2018
“That’s a lie... it was a lucky shot, a rebound... he’s awful... the only good thing he does is pray inside the field...” Hernández writes.
It was a season to forget for Hernández, but the World Cup should be the stage to redeem himself, and that he did.
CHICHARITO GETS HIS GOAL! pic.twitter.com/i6ougYi1Sc— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 23, 2018
His goal was historic in more ways than one. He became the joint-top Mexican goal scorer in World Cup history (4), tying with Luis “El Matador” Hernández, as well as becoming just the third Mexican player to score in three different World Cups.
Hernández bounced back from bad form and joined some elite company in the process. He’s now on a list of just 61 footballers to have scored at least 50 goals for their national team, a list that includes Neymar, Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Pelé, and of course, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“We have to imagine badass things, we have to continue like this,” Hernández said via Marca. “We want to achieve beautiful things for the country. We have to be very impartial, the individual achievement I put at the service of the team. The incredible Colombian coaching staff of this team, we believe in them and they believe in us until death. (I am) very happy and very glad to have scored, I am going to enjoy it. Starting tomorrow we turn the page. Win the group and wait for the crossing. (We must) keep climbing up that ladder with all the humility and respect.”
Hernández’s now famous quote, “Hay que imaginarse cosas chingonas,” or “We have to imagine badass things,” is a testament to how much belief, faith and fight is still left inside of this Mexican national team roster that is determined to make the famous “quinto partido” and beyond. A national team (and coach) marred by criticism and boos from their own home fans at the beginning of the month, is now looking hotter than ever. The same thing can be said about Chicharito.