WORLD CUP 2010: Manchester United's new boy Javier Hernandez says hello to the UK

23 May 2010 10:11
Young hopes: Javier Hernandez will showcase his talent in front of an English crowd for the first time on Monday

Javier Hernandez will get his first real taste of England on Monday night, facing some of his future Manchester United team-mates less than three weeks before carrying Mexico's hopes into the World Cup finals.

Not bad for a 21-year-old especially one who nearly walked away from the game little more than a year ago.

Out of the team at Chivas Guadalajara and doubting he had the ability to match his family's great football heritage, Hernandez had to be talked out of quitting to concentrate on business administration classes at the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac.

Two campaigns as his club's top scorer later, Sir Alex Ferguson snapped him up for United out of the blue last month and Mexico hope he can provide the goals so lacking in a stuttering qualification campaign towards South Africa.

Sven Goran Eriksson overlooked him before being sacked in February last year and new boss Javier Aguirre only turned to him in September.

But former Atletico Madrid boss Aguirre had an advantage, having known Hernandez as a toddler and his father of the same name from international duty, which reached a pinnacle when they both featured in the World Cup on home soil in 1986.

The Old Trafford incomer's maternal grandfather Tomas Balcazar played and scored at the 1954 finals and Hernandez Snr bursts with pride that the family trade is being kept alive.

Unveiled: Hernandez was snapped up by Manchester United earlier this season

'It is a beautiful situation that in the family we would have the happiness of three generations competing in the World Cup,' said the 48-year-old. 'This will stay in the history of Mexican football for ever.

'Playing in a World Cup is a beautiful experience, with everything that goes on around it.

'Being involved in it gives you maturity, knowledge of the level of international competition, so you return to your club with this huge football maturity and contribute everything you've learned to help your teammates both on and off the pitch.

'Words fail to describe the experience. You have to live it.'

It is a pep talk that might never have been, but 10 goals in 11 for Chivas this year and 11 in 17 before Christmas make Hernandez Jnr a likely starter in a remodelled Mexico attack.

Flop: Nery Castillo

Loaned out: Dos Santos

No breakthrough: Vela

There is a lot of competition in a forward-heavy squad that has already been shorn to 24.

Hernandez has the advantage of being able to play anywhere across the forward line, although he may settle for a place on the bench on Monday night because recent performances have been disappointing and his four goals in eight caps come against the less prestigious names of New Zealand, North Korea and Bolivia.

Mexico's three to watch

Nery Castillo, 5ft 7in, was Mexico's best striker at the Copa America three years ago but flopped spectacularly at Manchester City soon after and is now out of the picture with his country after failing to get backon track.

Giovani dos Santos also struggled to stay on his feet when arriving at Tottenham from Barcelona with a big reputation and he returns to Wembley as a Spurs outcast on loan at Galatasaray.

Dos Santos showed great promise as part of the Mexico side who won the 2005 Under 17 World Cup, as did Arsenal striker Carlos Vela, but Hernandez missed the tournament with injury.

Vela has struggled to make a breakthrough at Arsenal, scoring once in 11 League appearances this season, but Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez has few doubts that Hernandez will succeed.

'I think he will leave his mark in this World Cup,' said the Mexico captain. 'I believe he'll continue to perform like he's shown so far: he is a very levelheaded boy, clear ideas and with the talent and qualities that attracted Manchester United to sign him.'

England v Mexico Head-to-headWins 5Draws 1Defeats 2

In England's last game against Mexico in 2001, Paul Scholes, Robbie Fowler, David Beckham and Teddy Sheringham helped themselves to goals in a 4-0 friendly win at Pride Park as the national team toured the country while Wembley was rebuilt.

On target: Paul Scholes (second left) nets in a 4-0 win, the last time England played Mexico

But they have met the Latin Americans in a competitive match only once, on their way to World Cup glory in 1966. Bobby Charlton and Roger Hunt got on the scoresheet in a group game at Wembley in front of a 92,000 crowd.

May 25, 2001: Won 4-0Mar 29, 1997: Won 2-0May 17, 1986: Won 3-0June 9, 1985: Lost 1-0June 1, 1969: Drew 0-0July 16, 1966: Won 2-0May 10, 1961: Won 8-0May 24, 1959: Lost 2-1

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Source: Daily_Mail