While Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s long-standing interest was key in Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez's eventual arrival at the club, the lure of the Bundesliga also played an important role.
"For me it's one of the best three leagues in the world, alongside the Spanish and English leagues," said Hernandez in an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com at the BayArena recently. "Of course that attracted me. It was a new challenge, a breath of fresh air. I was keen to learn new things, to learn about a new culture, a new country, a new language, a new style of football and a new league. Everything!"
'Excited to be adapting'
So far, Chicharito has taken to on-field Bundesliga action like a duck to water, with the Mexican slowly getting used to life off the field in Germany as well. "It's quite easy to adapt [off the field] really," he says. "I have a good coach, a good support team and a translator around all the time to help me out. The club are doing everything they can to help me adapt and ensure that things go well for me."
"Obviously we [Hernandez and his girlfriend Lucia Villalon] find the language hard, but fortunately nearly everyone speaks English, so we can communicate pretty well. We're both getting used to life here but we're excited to be adapting to a new culture and new challenges."
'A really good group of lads'
By contrast, nothing has stood in the way of the striker's acclimatisation to Leverkusen out on the pitch, his impressive recent displays catching the world's attention. "Thanks to God I've settled quickly," he says. "I'm learning every day, which is how I like it, and the whole club is helping me to settle in; the coach, his assistants, my team-mates. It's not too hard to adapt though, because at the end of the day, they’re a really good group of lads."
Indeed, club coach Roger Schmidt has been quick to praise the 27-year-old’s efforts. "Chicharito is adapting better every day and is developing into a key part of the team," he told Marcadorint. "He's getting used to our style of play with regards to the pressing game and how we work off the ball. And, of course, he has that ability to create dangerous situations and finish off chances. He's already shown that with the goals he has scored for us in different competitions."
Hitting his straps
Chicharito has certainly hit a purple patch in front of goal in recent weeks, finding the net eight times in Leverkusen's last six games, a run stretching back to 20 October. When it comes to defining his role, Hernandez sees things simply: "It's up to me to help the team be successful and the only way I can repay the club's trust in me is by giving them everything – on and off the field."
While his goalscoring run has been impressive, Hernandez’s commercial impact has been overwhelming. The Mexican's arrival was quite the coup for Die Werkself, who have recently launched a Spanish-language Twitter account, such has been the interest from his homeland.
Leverkusen executive director Michael Schade stated recently that Hernandez "has exceeded all expectations. He’s a legend in Mexico and the media interest he has generated is unbelievable." Jonas Boldt, the club's sporting manager, went one step further, telling The New York Times that the 27-year-old’s signing was "a dream".
'What I needed'
"I think he's been a really good signing for us, a little bit extraordinary in fact," said Schmidt. "Because I don’t think anyone thought Bayer Leverkusen could ever sign Chicharito. But the way things have turned out have been positive for both parties, for the team and for him."
Hernandez himself modestly accepts the praise, before turning his attention to what he hopes the future at Bayer holds. "They're a team that trusts me," he concludes. "That's what I needed. I like the fact that the club is really hungry for success and that there are a lot of talented players here. I think we can achieve great things."
Chicharito was speaking to bundesliga.com's Daniel Thacker.