Cologne – Given that both his grandfather and father were professional footballers by trade, it was perhaps inevitable that Bayer 04 Leverkusen forward Javier Hernandez Balcazar would follow in their footsteps.
Born in the city of Guadalajara in northern Mexico, Hernandez cut his teeth in the game in the Chivas Guadalajara youth teams from the age of nine. He is known as 'Chicharito' (little pea) to distinguish him from his father, who was nicknamed 'Chicharo' (pea) during his playing days.
Despite progressing swiftly through the ranks at his hometown club, Hernandez initially struggled to break through as a professional and at one point even considered pursuing a different career path.
However, after his family convinced him to persevere a while longer he eventually made the step up, scoring 26 goals in 64 appearances for Chivas. His tireless running, willingness to put the team first and clinical finishing caught the eye of then Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed him in summer 2010.
By that time Hernandez was already a full Mexico international, and in 2011 he put in a dazzling display at the Gold Cup by scoring seven goals in six games to help El Tri lift the continental title. As well as winning the Golden Boot, he was named Player of the Tournament.
Hernandez, who has worn the No.14 shirt throughout his career but dons the No.7 at Leverkusen, went on to score 37 goals for Manchester United and won two Premier League titles, among other silverware. He also had a successful loan spell at Spanish giants Real Madrid CF in 2014/15, where he lifted the FIFA Club World Cup trophy.
'I want to achieve great things'
Nevertheless, eager for more playing time, the 27-year-old sought out a new challenge and jumped at the chance to move to Germany when Leverkusen came calling.
“The Bundesliga is an extremely attacking league and it’s very attractive for me,” he said after signing. “It’s wonderful to now play for a club like Leverkusen. Bayer represent a great chance for me and here I can and want to achieve great things.” If his past is anything to go by, they will not be very far away.