25 Jul, 17:00
Bayer Leverkusen pulled off one of the biggest transfer coups of summer 2015 by signing Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez from Manchester United.
The diminutive striker went on to hit 28 goals over the course of the two seasons that followed, before returning to England on 24 July 2017 to join West Ham. Here are ten facts on the German top flight's highest-scoring Mexican of all time.
1) 'El Chicharito'
Hernandez is better known as 'Chicharito', which means 'the little pea'. It is a diminutive form of the nickname given to his father Javier Hernandez Gutierrez, who was known as 'El Chicharo' (the pea) in reference to his green eyes. Hernandez junior joined Chivas Guadalajara at the age of just nine, although at the time he played as full-back.
-One of my coaches told me that I should move into attack instead, he revealed.
2) Patient and persistent
It was a while before Hernandez's career really took off. He featured only fleetingly for Chivas after joining their first team in 2006 and doubts were raised about his future. Only his patience and persistence helped him make the breakthrough, according to his father.
Once he was signed by United, the nimble forward knew he was going to have to muscle up to make the grade in England. "Even though I don't like it, I know that I have to work hard because the English league is much quicker and more physical," he said.
Chicharito is also a cartoon character back in Mexico, in a series named Mucha Lucha. The cartoon series also included Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa and several other stars of world football, past and present. He's a big cartoon fan too: "I can't miss anything on TV," he told Futbol Total, adding that he prefers superheroes like Superman.
Speedy Gonzalez is one of Mexico's most famous cartoon characters, but Hernandez is not far behind him, at least not according to a Daily Mail investigation into the fastest players at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was elected the tournament's fastest player at 19.97 mph, ahead of Bayern Munich's turbo-charged winger Arjen Robben.
6) Football in the family
Football is in Hernandez's blood. His grandfather scored against France in the 1954 World Cup, a feat Hernandez emulated in the 2010 edition by netting against Les Bleus. It was Mexico's 50th goal in a World Cup, coming 10 days ahead of the 56th anniversary of his grandfather's strike. His father also featured in a World Cup – on home soil in 1986.
7) Mexican trailblazer
Hernandez became the first Mexican player to appear in a UEFA Champions League final in his debut season for Manchester United. He did not finish on the winning side, however, although he did contribute four goals to the Red Devils' progress in the competition. He is also his country's all-time leading international marksman, having broken the 46-goal record held by Jared Borgetti in a June 2017 friendly defeat to Croatia.
8) Driving force
Moving to the European mainland has one particularly good side for Hernandez – driving on the right. "I felt like my whole world had fallen apart," Hernandez said when he discovered that people drive on the left with the steering wheel on the right in the British Isles.
9) Chicharito Day
Remember the date: 14 August is Chicharito Day, according to a group of followers on social media. A Facebook page "Las Chicharitas 14" – the number 14 for his shirt number, and August for being the only month of the year with the same number of letters as his first name.
10) Extra-curricular activities
Hernandez is a UNICEF ambassador and was also one of the six characters used by Turkish Airlines in one of their advertising campaigns. His portrait for that project, drawn by Craig Redman, sold for £520 in a charity auction.