Monday, June 9, 2014

We can be heroes

Next to Hollywood celebrities no one can argue that soccer players are the stars of our times. Rich and famous, they appear on the front covers of magazines, do commercials, and participate in charity events. For many, after Lionel Messi, it is Javier Hernandez— better known as El Chicharito who joins the prestigious Olympus of soccer superstars such as: Pelé, Di Stéfano, Cruyff, and Maradona. And now like them, he has a book about his life.

"Chicharito: The Javier Hernandez Story," published by Vintage Español, is the nonofficial biography of this young Mexican who plays as a forward for the Manchester United Premier League of England. The author Charles Samuel, with the obsession of a good investigator and journalist follows the footsteps of Chicharito from the city of Guadalajara (where he was born on June 1, 1988), to the minor leagues where at the age of 9 he was already showing the elegant style of his soccer talents, then his distinguished performance in the Club Deportivo Guadalajara, up to the time he joins the Mexico National football team and his current life in Europe.

Samuel was able to interview Chicharito, his family members and many of his teammates of the Manchester United, as well as have access to his personal photos. The book reveals how this young soccer star became known as "El Chicharito" (the little pea). His father, Javier Hernandez Gutierrez, a former soccer player was known as "El Chicharo" (the pea) because of his short stature and blue eyes; physical features that El Chicarito also possesses. Not only does he inherit his father's soccer abilities and physical attributes, but also his nickname. Chicharito is the third generation soccer player in his family: his father participated in the World Cup of 1986 that took place in Mexico and his maternal grandfather was Tomás Balcázar, a legendary player from Guadalajara.

In regards to his father and grandfather, Chicharito comments in the book, "they help me a lot in the soccer field given that they also played as forwards, but they have helped me even more outside of the field. That is the most difficult thing for a young player; there's so much money involved and various things can take you off track. I am not better than others despite my goals, my success, or my medals."

Chicharito was sold for more than $9 million to Manchester United, becoming one of the most expensive soccer players in Mexican soccer, and this year he became a UNICEF Ambassador.

Beyond the interviews with family and friends, there is something that is often forgotten and is probably the most important aspect of these types of books -- the personal challenges that many young athletes have had to overcome. This book provides an inspirational message that can help change the life of many people, especially that of adolescents.


Review Chicharito: The Javier Hernandez Story, Charles Samuel (  San Fernando Valley Sun Newspaper)