How brilliant is Leverkusen's Javier Hernández?

A Twitter phenomenon, great pals with David de Gea and now a member of an exclusive strikers' club, Javier Hernández is worth his weight in goals.

Five great Chicharito goals
Five great Chicharito goals

Javier Hernández has passed the 100 mark for goals scored since he came to Europe, his move to Leverkusen suggesting he would have reached that point much faster had he been a regular starter at Manchester United or Real Madrid. UEFA.com gives him credit. 

What they say
"Goals decide matches, but apart from his scoring rate, he helps the team a lot in other ways. He drops deep at times, makes great runs and always finds a promising spot in the box. He is unpredictable."
Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach

"When we brought him to the club we thought it would take him a while to adapt and we would mainly use him as a substitute ... Hernández is unbelievable with his movement ... The boy's got goals in him."
Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager

"He's not big-headed, he's very down to earth. He's very religious and has a deep faith in God. He's also mischievous, but in a good way. There is a lot about Javier that makes him a role model for all Mexican footballers."
José Luis Real, former Chivas coach

"He is a very good friend. He's a great person, one of the nicest people I have met in football."
David de Gea, Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper

Current tally
International: 88 appearances, 45 goals
UEFA club competition: 52 appearances, 16 goals
Domestic competition: 265 appearances, 110 goals

Chicharito Q&A: Getting to know the Leverkusen & Mexico star
Chicharito Q&A: Getting to know the Leverkusen & Mexico star

Claims to fame
Manchester United

• Signed from Chivas Guadalajara in conditions so secret that the player's grandfather Tomás Balcázar thought he was going on a trip to the United States, Hernández announced his arrival with a strange goal on his debut in the pre-season Community Shield game against Chelsea in August 2010 – deflecting in his own miscued shot with his face.

• Hernández swiftly became the Premier League's top Mexican scorer, his sixth goal (against Stoke City on 4 January 2011) taking him past Guillermo Franco's total of five, registered for West Ham in 2009/10. His Mexican Premier League record stands at 37 strikes. 

• He became the first United player since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2001/02 to notch 20+ goals in his Old Trafford debut season, and was given the Matt Busby award as the fans' player of the 2010/11 campaign. "I dreamed about playing for Manchester United and thought perhaps in my first season I'd play for the reserves with maybe a few minutes in the first team. But thanks to the boss and all my team-mates I have played a little bit more."

He was also the second Mexican (after Barcelona's Rafael Márquez) to appear in a UEFA Champions League final as United lost 3-1 to the Catalan side in the 2011 decider at Wembley.

Hernández speaks during his time at Madrid
Hernández speaks during his time at Madrid

Real Madrid
• Loaned to Real Madrid with first-team opportunities scarce at United, he made a losing debut in a Madrid derby against Atlético, yet then scored twice inside three minutes in his second game – an 8-2 win at Deportivo La Coruña.

• After netting the only goal of Real Madrid's 1-0 aggregate success over Atlético in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, he later told UEFA.com that strike was "the highlight of my time in Madrid".

Leverkusen
• He was Bundesliga player of the month three times in his first Leverkusen season, 2015/16, and revelled in regular game time, plundering his first ever club hat-trick in a 5-0 triumph against Mönchengladbach on 12 December.

• Hernández eclipsed that treble with a perfect hat-trick (left-footed, right-footed and headed goals) in a 3-2 victory at Mainz in September 2016.

Hernández scores against France in 2010
Hernández scores against France in 2010©Getty Images

Mexico national team
• He followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather (1954) and father (1986) in being named in a FIFA World Cup finals squad in 2010; played in the competition (unlike his father) and also emulated his grandfather by scoring against France at the final tournament. 

What you might not know
• The nickname: Hernández's father – also Javier Hernández – was nicknamed Chícharo (pea) as a baby, because he was a bit rotund and had green eyes. The younger Javier Hernández thus became 'Chicharito' (little pea).

• He did not always welcome his family's footballing reputation, recalling of his early years: "They would always say: 'He's the son of Chícharo' or 'He's the grandson of Tomás Balcázar'. People were forever comparing me. It was difficult, but it made me a much stronger person."

• Hugely popular on social media (especially in Mexico), Chicharito boasts around 7.3 million Twitter followers and around half as many on Instagram, his great presence and ability to inspire leading to him being appointed a UNICEF ambassador to promote children's rights – and having a character in his honour in the cartoon series ¡Mucha Lucha!.

Hernández and Wayne Rooney after the 2011 final
Hernández and Wayne Rooney after the 2011 final©Getty Images

• Moving to England gave him a decent command of English accents and idiom – eventually. "When I first came here, everyone that spoke English sounded exactly the same, but now I know the accents," he said. "Mind you, it's still difficult to understand Wazza [Wayne Rooney]."

• Driving on the left with the steering wheel on the right during his time in Manchester proved a challenge; on discovering how the British rules of the road differed from those in his native Mexico in that key regard, he recalled: "I felt like my whole world had fallen apart."

• In Germany, he is regarded as unusually devout in his Roman Catholicism; Süddeutsche Zeitung noted with wonder that he referred to God 23 times in a 44-minute interview.

What he says
"Ever since I was born I knew I was going to be a footballer: I was set on it. I loved going to the stadium to watch my dad and I was lucky enough that – because he played – I could experience the atmosphere first-hand on a regular basis."

"Before my time in Leverkusen I was rarely a regular, but now I am getting more starting appearances and the number of goals and assists prove I am playing consistently. I am really sensing that I am valuable here."

"From Cristiano Ronaldo I obviously learned a lot, but it's the competitiveness with which he approaches everything in life that really inspired me. He always wants to be the best in everything he does."

"I'm never going to be in a comfort zone – I always want to be a better player, person. I want to help my team get the goals that we are aiming for. The only expectations I have are the ones of my manager and the ones I have. Those are the same."

Rafael Márquez and another notable Hernández
Rafael Márquez and another notable Hernández©Getty Images

What he might achieve yet
• By featuring against Monaco on matchday six, Hernández matched Rafael Márquez's Mexican record of 46 UEFA Champions League outings, with the ex-Barcelona defender's national-best mark of 56 UEFA club competition appearances the next target.

• On current form, he should also surpass countryman Hugo Sánchez as Mexico and the CONCACAF nations' top European scorer. The former Real Madrid ace got 17 goals in the European Cup and 24 in all competitions; Chicharito has 14 in the UEFA Champions League and 16 in all.

• The 2015 CONCACAF Player of the Year has lifted domestic titles in Mexico and England, but has yet to win a major UEFA honour. This season's UEFA Champions League? Why not aim high.