On the back of a resoundingly successful debut season in the Bundesliga, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is now aiming to round out his football year in style at the Copa America Centenario. If all goes to plan, he could even hit a new scoring milestone for Mexico along the way.
A firm favourite already with fans and colleagues alike at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, on account of his down-to-earth, hard-working personality as much as his return of 17 goals in 28 Bundesliga outings, Chicharito started into the Copa with 44 to his name for the national team – just two behind all-time top scorer Jared Borgetti. Not that the 28-year-old Guadalajara native is overly focused on the prospect, emphasizing before the tournament got underway that, "I've never played for my country primarily to set those kind of records. If I did make the top of the list at some point it would obviously be nice but it's not something I'm losing any sleep over."
His first run-out at the Copa America is, in itself, a sufficiently energising experience. "As a youngster, this was the tournament that really fired my imagination alongside the World Cup," he explained; "I vividly recall the 2001 final, when Mexico lost 1-0 to Colombia. The whole country was so proud we'd made it to the final – and so sad that we couldn't go all the way and win it."
Hernandez and Co. would relish nothing more than to take that final step this time around, and they got off on the right foot with an opening 3-1 victory over record title-holders Uruguay. He drew a personal blank in that one but remaining Group C opponents Jamaica and Venezuela offer at least two more opportunities to write the next chapter in his personal record book. Surely on his way to becoming Mexico's all-time top scorer sooner rather than later, Chicharito would nonetheless be more than happy to put this particular title on hold a little longer if it was a straight toss-up between that and Copa glory for his country.