Javier Hernandez’s family has a long footballing tradition, and the Mexico striker will try to repeat history in South Africa and score in a World Cup like his grandfather did in 1954.
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Hernandez is 22, the same age as his granddad, Tomas Balcazar, when he played in the tournament 56 years ago. Mexico fans hope Hernandez can mirror his dream start with Chivas last season when he scored eight goals in his first five games. He ended up the season as the league’s top goal scorer and will join Manchester United after the World Cup.
Hernandez was overlooked as a starter in the tournament’s opening match Friday against South Africa in favor of Guillermo Franco, but came on as a late substitute. He played aggressively, but didn’t have any clear opportunities to score and finished with one off-target shot.
If coach Javier Aguirre selects him, he will get his next chance when Mexico takes on France in their Group A match Thursday in Polokwane.
Hernandez is nicknamed "Chicharito" – which means "little sweet pea" – because of his father, who is also named Javier Hernandez. His father was on Mexico’s World Cup team in 1986, but did not play, and was known as "Chicharo," or "sweet pea."
Hernandez scored seven goals in 12 friendlies before the World Cup.
"This is the fruit of all the hard work he has done since he began playing at 8 years old," his grandfather said before the World Cup. "He has always been a dedicated boy. Whatever he has achieved he has done through his own efforts. We just give him advice so his head doesn’t get too big."
Balcazar scored in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland when Mexico lost to France 3-2.