Former Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez may have moved on to pastures new six years ago, but he says that he will always be a Red at heart.
The 33-year-old, nicknamed ‘Chicharito’, had originally admired United from afar as a youngster at hometown club Chivas, before a dream move to M16 became a reality prior to the 2010/11 season.
The Mexican quickly became a fan favourite among the Old Trafford faithful upon arrival in Manchester for his passionate character and natural goalscoring prowess that saw him net 59 times in United colours, while helping the Reds to two Premier League titles.
He spent the 2014/15 season on loan at the Bernabeu with Real Madrid, before bringing his time at United to a permanent close the following summer. He has gone on to play for Bayer Leverkusen, West Ham and Sevilla in the time since, before making Los Angeles his new home in January 2020.
It may feel like a lifetime ago since Hernandez donned the United shirt, but even to this day, Reds across the world sing the praises of Javier for his contributions during his time at Old Trafford.
He is much adored among the fan base, so much so that he had been a regularly requested guest for the UTD Podcast, as revealed by co-host Helen Evans during the latest episode.
Well, those asking for his appearance in the guest seat got their wish this week, as our former no.14 sat down with Evans, along with fellow co-hosts David May and Sam Homewood on the show to chat all things United – and it’s an episode you can listen to now on the Official App, and all other podcast providers.
Hernandez took the opportunity to speak about his love for United during his guest appearance.
“Manchester United is always going to be my team. I’m very grateful for Real Madrid, Sevilla, Bayer Leverkusen, West Ham, all of them,” he said on the episode, released for the first time on Monday.
“I love them [my former teams], I still love them and I’m going to be grateful forever but honestly, I feel it that you’re once a Red, always a Red.
“What I experienced, what I lived, I can say that I was the only Mexican under Sir Alex Ferguson, I scored the last goal under him, I am the only Mexican who has won [the Premier League] so far.
“I hope more Mexican players can be in a United shirt, I will love it. But I am the only Mexican who has won the Premier League and then twice and it was the 19[th] and 20[th titles].
“They then helped me to live another opportunity like play for Real Madrid and then go to Germany. Everything was because of those four years in my career.”
He also shared his side of the mutual love-in with United supporters, by looking back on one particular personal experience at Old Trafford.
It did not come during his time on the home side though, rather on the one occasion that he has been on the visiting side in M16 since his departure, with West Ham United back in 2018/19, during a game in which he received a standing ovation from around 75,000 inside the Theatre of Dreams that afternoon.
“It was a bittersweet moment. It was like ‘man, it’s an ovation but I’m still in the opposition, I could have been in the field with the red shirt’.
“Even though I was with one of the very traditional and greatest teams like West Ham – I was very lucky to play with them as well, it was amazing, I was grateful – it was like ‘yeah, I missed this kind of ovation I’ve had in the past’.
“I remember I had one when I scored the winning goal against Newcastle in the 4-3 at home and then Sir Alex Ferguson took me off,” he recollected.
“It’s Old Trafford and regardless of that, Old Trafford being very grateful for those four amazing years in my career, it was a fortunate experience for me to take.
“I’m very grateful that I pushed myself, that I paid all the prices to be able to live those experiences.”
While speaking on the podcast, he again expressed his gratitude to the United fans for that moment, and for their continued support, including in the time since he left Old Trafford.
“I appreciate it [the support] and I say thank you to all the Manchester United fans if you are listening because I am always going to be a Manchester United fan.
“Manchester United is always going to be my team. My heart always was red and it’s always going to be.
“The way my family experienced it, the way that city, that country and like I told you all that family treated my family. I will always be grateful.”