Speaking about exceeding expectations, playing with a smile and Sir Alex Ferguson's advice, Manchester United FC's Javier Hernández told UEFA.com he feels a "very lucky man".
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Javier Hernández's first season in England could scarcely have gone better. Snapped up by Manchester United FC prior to his two goals in last summer's FIFA World Cup, the Mexico striker has adapted effortlessly to life at Old Trafford. A Premier League champion, seemingly the perfect foil for Wayne Rooney and the scorer of 20 club goals in all competitions, Hernández spoke to UEFA.com ahead of the small matter of a UEFA Champions League final against FC Barcelona.
UEFA.com: Your manager said recently that you've exceeded expectations. Do you agree? How have you achieved this success so fast?
Javier Hernández: This first year has been marvellous for me. Neither the coach, nor me, nor my family expected this. You always want to think that things will go well, that things will go for the best, but never did I imagine playing this much. I've been involved a lot in my first season, when I hoped to make a few appearances and play with the reserves and just a few minutes with the first team.
I had hoped for this beautiful opportunity and that I would be welcomed by my team-mates, just like I am used to in Mexico. I am here and I have to enjoy it, but I also have to work very hard. I am a very lucky man. I know football is not predictable. You can have good days and bad days, like everyone. But attitude, like I said, you have in your own hands, and I hope to do very well.
UEFA.com: Do you believe the more you work, the more you achieve?
Hernández: Yes. Working hard is the basis of any success in life. Not just in sport, but in every job and every aspect of life. There have been so many great players at this club, so you always have to give something extra. You always have to work on your weak points, but also on your qualities, which you have to try and make even better. I try to work hard on the physical side as well, because I am not a very tall player, nor a very strong player by nature. I work on that with the whole staff to be at the required level for the league.
UEFA.com: Your understanding with Wayne Rooney seems to be growing and growing and you are benefiting from his qualities. This must be very helpful for a striker who wants to score goals.
Hernández: Yes. With players like Rooney, [Dimitar] Berbatov and Michael Owen, all the attackers here, it is very easy to understand them because they are extraordinary players. So not just with Wayne, it's easy with all the strikers because these are world-class players. Their movement is excellent and they always play for the team. You have to do what they do, also keeping in mind we all have our strengths, but we use them for the team. The most important thing is that the team wins medals and titles.
UEFA.com: Do you share a love of football with Wayne?
Hernández: Yes, clearly. Football is my life, and I can see that with Wayne and all my other team-mates as well. Football is our life, and we love the sport very much. So we live this sport 100%, always.
UEFA.com: Sir Alex, in his day, was a striker. Does he give you advice on movement?
Hernández: Always. The coach always watches over me a bit more, because it's my first year and I am away from home, [so he] checks if I'm well and happy. When there are games or training, he tells me things like 'look at this movement' or 'move your body like this'. I try to be a sponge, so I can soak up every tip and piece of advice I can get.
UEFA.com: Do you know Wembley and its history?
Hernández: It is a very important stadium, everybody around the world knows Wembley. When you talk about Wembley, you are talking about football, the country, the Premier League, and all the history and legends that are connected to that stadium. It's a very important venue. The most overwhelming thing about all of this is that in my first year at my new club I can play in the Champions League final in that stadium. That's just incredible.
UEFA.com: What do you think of Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol?
Hernández: They are two world-class centre-backs. But the whole team consists of world-class players, and that's what the team and I are aware of – that we have to focus on their whole team, not on individual players. That's how you get prepared, you focus on the whole team and how they play. We also know we should first focus on ourselves and our game and how we want to succeed.
UEFA.com: I'm sure you've been asked this a lot but where does your nickname come from? Why Chicharito?
Hernández: I always like to say why. It comes from my dad. They called him that because he had green eyes when he was born. They looked like peas, so they called him 'Chicharo' [pea]. Everyone, the press and so on, called him that. He was a great footballer as well. When I was born I was the son of 'Chicharo', and not Javier Hernández, so they called me Chicharito, which means 'little pea'. I just inherited the name.
Who is Javier Hernández? UEFA.com reveals all on Friday.