Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez attempted to downplay his status as one of the superstars of Mexico's national team on Wednesday. While some fans may applaud his humility, his words won't distract foes from the clear and present danger he presents when he steps on the field.
Despite his considerable achievements, the soon-to-be 24-year-old is a relative late bloomer. He nearly quit the game in 2008 when he was an unknown reserve at Mexican club CD Guadalara ("Chivas"). With pluck and an eye for goal, he soon became a key player for the storied club and Mexico.
He joined Manchester United before the 2010 World Cup for £7 million ($11.2 million). He was an instant sensation in his first Premier League season, and the five-year deal he signed in October will keep him playing among world soccer's elite for most of his peak years.
Playing at one of Europe's biggest clubs does not make Hernandez a star in his own mind. He told Manutd.com that considers himself to be just one of the guys when he dons the red, green and white of the national team.
"I am simply proud to be involved each time the Mexico squad is announced," he said. "Whenever I’m mentioned, I do not feel differently to anyone else. I'm not a star, I feel the same as all my team-mates."
Nice try, Chicharito. You may not get star-struck when you look in the mirror, but your country and its (on-field) opponents think otherwise. You've scored 23 goals in 34 games for Mexico. Fans and teammates are expecting you to add to that total in upcoming games against Guyana and El Salvador.
Hernandez will be the focal point of the potent Mexico attack. Andres Guardado, Giovanni dos Santos and others routinely create a barrage of scoring chances. The Manchester United man's job is to finish them, and every opponent knows it. Coaches in this region spend weeks and months devising plans to cut off his service or stop him outright. It rarely works, but it's irresponsible for them not try their best.
This is not the same thing as Charles Barkley rejecting his status as a role model. Barkley was talking about how he fits into the lives of his fans. Whether he likes it or not, Hernandez is one of the stars of a resurgent and star-studded Mexico team. If he's trying to play possum with his abilities, he might as well save his energy. Everybody knows he's the main man in the Mexico attack.