LA Galaxy's Javier Hernandez explains 'retirement' comments after first practice
New LA Galaxy signing Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is looking forward to lifting trophies in Major League Soccer and said everything is in place for him to succeed, with retirement not on his mind.
The striker, who attended practice with his new team for the first time on Thursday, got emotional during a video call to his parents on his YouTube show "Naked Humans" when explaining his decision to join MLS and stated that "it's the beginning of retirement," but after criticism from some quarters the 31-year-old former Sevilla striker set the record straight.
"It's so simple," said Hernandez in Thursday's introductory press conference. "I think all over the world, but [especially] in my country we love and we are like obsessed with drama and excess.
"And so when you say 'retirement' it's like 'oh, tomorrow he's going to announce retirement,'" he continued. "They didn't really listen to what I said, 'the beginning of the retirement.' The retirement could last 10 years, you never know."
Hernandez returns to North America after almost 10 years in Europe and has no regrets about a career there that included successful stints at Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid, picking up two Premier League winners medals and the Club World Cup title.
"I did everything that I could," said the Guadalajara native. "There were people who didn't play me and let me express myself as I would've liked, but it's part of football.
"I come back as a Mexican football legend, as much as some may be bothered by that."
Hernandez described the move to Galaxy as a "win, win, win, win" and mentioned that his ambitions have no limits, given that he's already achieved more than he thought imaginable.
"To go from doubting whether to retire at Chivas, to playing at Manchester United within a year and a half," said Hernandez. "To go through the retirement of Alex Ferguson, who most of humanity, and myself, thought would never retire from Manchester United. He retired when I was there. And I scored the last goal of his era.
"How do I imagine it [at Galaxy]? I signed for three years plus an additional one, hopefully there are four years and each year brings a title."
Hernandez's transfer to the Galaxy also heralds a new era in the fledgling "El Trafico" rivalry with LAFC and reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who played in Chivas' youth teams alongside Hernandez. The two friends spoke about Hernandez's move, but the former Manchester United player wasn't giving much away: "We're not going to say what we talked about."
The top goal-scorer in the history of the Mexico national team already knows Los Angeles from many trips representing El Tri, which is invariably treated as the home team at the Rose Bowl by California's massive Mexican-American population. Hernandez was greeted at the airport by hundreds of noisy fans when he arrived with his young family Wednesday night.
"I've been playing in this country since I was 16 years old," he said. "I've won a lot of games here, and I've been treated with a lot of value and respect. I want that, and it's coming from the best club in the USA. They came to get me, and that speaks of what they think of me."
While the Galaxy made major improvements and reached the playoffs last season behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic's franchise-record 30 goals, they desperately needed another top-flight striker at the center of coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto's attack when Ibrahimovic chose to return to Europe. Unlike most MLS clubs, the Galaxy have the money to go get elite talents, even in the January transfer window.
Hernandez is well aware of the five-time MLS champions' history of landing world-class players, reeling off his own list of favorites: "Robbie Keane. Steven Gerrard. Giovani Dos Santos. Jonathan Dos Santos. Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Landon Donovan. David Beckham, that's the most iconic one, obviously. And then my name is over those. I'm just so blessed and so humble that I can be a part of all this."
The speedy, shifty Hernandez likely fits Schlelotto's style even better than the hulking Ibrahimovic, and the Argentine coach worked aggressively behind the scenes to land Hernandez.
"More than anybody, Guillermo was involved in making it happen," said Galaxy general manager Dennis Te Kloese, who has known Hernandez since the player's childhood.
"In the end, it had to do with Javier's interest in being a part of this organization because he's going to be in a team and with a coach who has a lot of trust in him," Te Kloese said.
Hernandez will make his MLS debut on Feb. 29 on the road against the Houston Dynamo.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.