Along with Kylian Mbappe (l.), Lucas Hernandez (r.) played a key role in France's 2018 FIFA World Cup win. - © 2018 Getty Images
Along with Kylian Mbappe (l.), Lucas Hernandez (r.) played a key role in France's 2018 FIFA World Cup win. - © 2018 Getty Images

5 things on Bayern Munich and France's World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez

A friend of Antoine Griezmann, fashioned in Diego Simeone's never-say-die image at Atletico Madrid, and a FIFA World Cup winner: that's a pop-up portrait of what Bayern Munich are getting in new signing Lucas Hernandez. trains the microscope on the France international defender, who has signed a five-year deal with the record Bundesliga champions.

1) In the name of the father

Bayern's new arrival wore his first name on the back of his shirt in Madrid, but it bears his surname for his country. Like Zlatan Ibrahimovic before him, the reason is a complicated relationship with his father. Jean-Francois Hernandez was a centre-back of some quality for the likes of Toulouse and Marseille where Lucas was born on 14 February 1996, with his father in the colours of France's first and only UEFA Champions League winners.

The family then moved to Spain when Jean-Francois signed for Compostela before joining Rayo Vallecano and even Atletico, where he played alongside Fernando Torres in June 2001 - some years before the Spain forward would feature in the same Atleti side as the son, a day Jean-Francois did not see.

Watch: Who is Lucas Hernandez?

"People who don't know our story think it's thanks to him that they became footballers, but that has nothing to do with it," explained Lucas' mother Laurence Py, who was left by Jean-Francois when Lucas and his younger brother, Real Madrid defender Theo, were five and three respectively — their father has had no contact with them since.

"I didn't have a normal childhood," explained Lucas, who acknowledges the role a challenging upbringing has had in forging his character. "I lived without a father, just with my mother and brother, especially when we were in Spain.

"My mother didn't work and we didn't have any money, that's the truth. It's my grandfather who got us out of a hole. I have experienced tough times in my life, and I have always stood up and been strong mentally. That's what got me to where I am today."

2) Play it like Pavard

Jean-Francois did pass on his football ability, with Lucas' left foot matching his father's as well as his position on the pitch: "Centre-back, I undoubtedly inherited that from him…" Lucas explained.

Because though he won the World Cup as a left-back, it was at centre-back that he first made his name at Atletico, taking advantage of a rash of injuries to the likes of Stefan Savic, Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez to establish himself in the Atleti first team in February 2016.

Born in France, Lucas Hernandez moved to Spain as a small child, joining Atletico Madrid as a youngster. - AFP/Getty Images

As he did so, he also got his first France U21 call-up… to cover at left-back following injuries to Benjamin Mendy and Jordan Amavi. It is a position Hernandez has since made his own at Atletico and meant it was a similar story in March 2018 when Mendy — previously the first-choice left-back for France boss Didier Deschamps — was still recovering from a serious knee injury in the build-up to the World Cup in Russia.

Like Lilian Thuram before them, both he and another Bayern newboy Benjamin Pavard, who featured at right-back, had to play out of their preferred position at the heart of the defence for the good of their nation's cause, and — like ex-Juventus and Barcelona man Thuram — were rewarded with World Cup winners' medals.

Hernandez (l.) and his future Bayern teammate Benjamin Pavard (r.) flew the French flag high during the FIFA World Cup in Russia. - AFP/Getty Images

"They were better than the other two," explained Deschamps when asked why Pavard and Hernandez had been used in Russia at the expense of Mendy and Djibril Sidibe, who was also injured in the build-up to the tournament and lost his first-choice status.

"They have that quality of being very good defensively, winning challenges on the ground and in the air. They also have athletic qualities because they can run all day. They allowed us to be more solid defensively, and for our centre-back pairing to be stronger."

3) Les Bleus or La Roja?

Instead of basking in the glory of being at the top of world football at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium in July 2018, Hernandez could have been watching the latter stages of the competition at home — or more likely from the beach of his chosen summer holiday destination — but for a phone call from Deschamps and some badgering from Griezmann.

His progress at Atletico and the fact that he had spent most of his life in Spain led to speculation he would play for them at senior level, despite having represented only France up to the U21s. He was wavering, until Deschamps — revered as France's 1998 World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000-winning captain, as well as the current national team boss — picked up the phone.

A phone call from France coach Didier Deschamps (l.) convinced Lucas (r.) to choose Les Bleus. - AFP/Getty Images

"When I said I was ready to play for Spain, I didn't have any news from France," Hernandez explained when called up by Les Bleus' coach for the first time in March 2018, just three months before the start of the World Cup. "But when Didier Deschamps called me to find out about my situation, I didn't hesitate for a minute, not even 30 seconds."

Griezmann, who had taken his young compatriot under his wing in the Spanish capital, also played a major part.

"I put him under pressure for a few days," said the forward, who is credited with greater influence by Hernandez himself.

Lucas (r.) is close to France teammate Antoine Griezmann (c.), with whom he also played at Atletico. - AFP/Getty Images

"He was there when I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life," Lucas said. "He's the one who made me think it over and changed everything. He said to me that even though Spain had given me everything, I have French blood, and if France called me up one day, I mustn't refuse. That stayed in my mind. If Antoine hadn't been there, I would have been lost."

Hernandez does not have a Spanish passport, but there is a constant reminder — like the French-born Argentina-raised David Trezeguet before him — of his cosmopolitan character.

"He made jokes all the time, he wasn't shy, even if he didn't speak French very, very well at the start," said Franck Honorat, a teammate with France's U18 side. "His accent sometimes made us laugh."

4) Spiritual son of Simeone

Though he names Real Madrid's Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos as his idols, Hernandez's game is unmistakably hewn from the red-and-white side of the Spanish capital's great football divide.

The steel-reinforced defensive qualities that endeared Hernandez to Deschamps are the trademark of a midfielder the France coach would have played against: Diego Simeone.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has played a major role in shaping Lucas Hernandez into the player he is today. - 2018 Getty Images

"I have grown with him," said Hernandez, who joined Atletico in 2007, four years before Simeone took charge. "He's the one who brought me from the junior teams to the first team. Ever since I have been with him, he has instilled in me that if you want to succeed in life, you have to fight, you have to give everything, you have to work in every training session."

Simeone handed Hernandez his first-team debut aged 18, and has since fashioned a defender in his own image: hungry, tireless and above all fearless.

"He has always worked and he has always wanted to improve," explained Simeone. "Above all, and what is most important for me, is that he's not afraid. A player who isn't afraid to play well or badly is never a problem."

5) A World Cup winner

Bayern teammate Corentin Tolisso played the closing minutes of France's 4-2 defeat of Croatia in Moscow last summer, but Hernandez featured for the full 90 and even helped set up Kylian Mbappe for Les Bleus' fourth goal in the final.

"Lucas puts a lot of aggression into his challenges," explained Deschamps as he outlined the qualities of the man destined to become his first-choice left-back for years to come. "There are times when players do things or their attitude wakes everyone up a bit. He has that in him."

Lucas Hernandez (r.) will now come up against the likes of Timo Werner (l.) regularly in the Bundesliga. - 2018 Getty Images

It is also that drive and determination that will ensure Hernandez will continue moving onwards and upwards at Bayern, where he will surely add more silverware to sit alongside the biggest prize of them all. Though don't count on him to rest on his impressive laurels any time soon.

"When I stop playing and I watch the World Cup in my living room with a few beers," he said. "Then it'll be time to savour it."