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Mexico's 'little pea' shines

2010-06-19 13:17
Javier Hernandez celebrates his goal against France (AFP)

Polokwane - Mexico's 'Little Pea' Javier Hernandez is in the spotlight after netting his first World Cup in the defeat of France which all but sent his compatriots through to the last 16.

Hernandez's cool finish midway through the second half after he started on the bench shattered a poor France team and Cuauhtemoc Blanco's penalty finished the job.

And the 22-year-old is now in the full glare of media attention after showing off talents that persuaded Manchester United to buy him for ten million dollars from Chivas of Guadalajara and Mexico coach Javier Aguirre to label him as the shining star in the "greatest young generation of Mexican footballers".

In truth, the French might have seen it coming had they consulted the tournament history books in depth as Hernandez's grandfather Tomas Balcazar scored against France when the sides met in the 1954 World Cup.

The French won that one but a side as disjointed and disinterested as Raymond Domenech's had nothing left in the tank after Hernandez beat the offside trap to prod home after 64 minutes.

"This win is just the start - there is a long way to go," said Hernandez, who added that, until Tuesday at least, when they will go up against joint group leaders Uruguay, "we're not thinking about that one. We want to enjoy this moment."

Hernandez admitted that it had crossed his mind that he was following the footsteps of his grandfather - his father Javier, nicknamed "big pea" for his green eyes, also played for the national side at the 1986 World Cup.

"I remembered that in the dressing room, what my grandfather did in 1954, and thank God I was able to score a goal in this good team - though we have won nothing as yet," said the budding star whose strike against the French was also his country's 50th in World Cup finals.

Asked for his family's reaction to his exploits he said: "I have not spoken to them as yet - but I always remember that my family is the principal reason for my being here. Thanks to them I am as I am both off the pitch and on it."

By the age of nine, Hernandez was playing for the local Chivas junior side and by 18 was in the first team.

On September 9, 2006, he came on and scored with virtually his first touch in a league match against Necaxa, quickly becoming a fan favourite at a club where his grandfather and father had played.

He added that while he was looking forward to testing English Premier League defenders that dream would have to be put on hold for now.

"I am pleased Manchester United have placed their confidence in me - but for now I am wholly focused 100 percent on the national team," he insisted after a showing which was a world away from his brief cameo of 17 minutes in the opening match draw with South Africa.

After their World Cup adventure is over Hernandez will seek to overshadow international teammate Carlos Vela, a year younger and who will next season look to hold down a first team place at Arsenal.

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