During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez sat for an interview where a brief moment became virally canonized and long outlived the tournament. “¡Imaginemos cosas chingonas, carajo!” became a new Mexican national slogan quickly heard around the world. To Hernandez, it was a simple and natural response to the interviewer’s contemptuous ask if the Mexican soccer star truly believed his national team stood a chance of defeating the reigning World Cup champions to advance past the group stages.
“He was already assuming in the question that there wasn’t even the benefit of a doubt that we could beat Germany,” he tells Remezcla, reflecting on this moment. Just weeks later, Hernandez would play a critical assisting role in the 35th-minute goal that secured El Tri’s shocking victory. “I’m glad [the meme] went viral,” he says. “Not because it was me, but because of the message. I think it’s something hopeful that we can all dare to dream big.”
We caught up with the soccer icon on a sunny afternoon in his most recent home city of Los Angeles to learn more about what is on his list of cosas chingonas, from video games to music, the keys behind the Mexican star’s success, and how his next venture captures his personal mantra in aims to help support Latines champion their own dreams.
While recognized as one of the most historic Mexican players — holding the current record for the all-time highest goalscorer in its history, Hernandez blends seamlessly donning a plain white tee and warm smile that exerts an aura of approachable humbleness as we sit at the end of a popular Highland Park bar. His response to his adjustment to his latest relocation proves he easily camouflages as another sun-loving Angeleno. “It’s always been one of my favorite cities. I love hiking in L.A., just getting to walk and watch sunsets, having lunch or dinner with people that I love, or if I have a couple of hours, I watch a movie or play video games,” he says.
With lit-up eyes, we elaborate more on the expansive world of video games and the newer skill Chicharito is growing to master. With the rise of Twitch streaming during the pandemic, Hernandez supporters, who may have dreamt of playing with or against him, have gained a new global arena that could manifest their hopes. Hernandez can be found streaming his gameplay two to three times a week. “When COVID hit, we all suffered from it,” he notes. “I was in my house and couldn’t socialize that much or go out, so I enjoy that I can do something I’ve been doing my whole life and people can observe it, and they can also have a good time.”
His newfound free time has turned to one game, Call of Duty: Warzone. “It’s fun, it’s exciting. With video games, there’s a key thing and it’s the connectivity,” Hernandez explains. “You can play around the world, you can meet people, and in the end, it’s a very different way of connecting to people personally.”
But you won’t find him sitting behind a screen for too long. His primary motive behind his relocation is signing with what he calls “the best club in MLS,” the LA Galaxy, which came into fruition on the brink of the pandemic. “I live for and depend on my body, and it’s still working. I fully commit to my profession, and my lifestyle goes around that,” he says. His success is a result of much more than the physical. “I’m not quite normal in technique, but where I dare to push myself is here [motions to head] and here [motions to heart]. My body is the result of that. I’m always in constant work. I’m still investing in myself. You have to invest if you want to grow. Every single day I try to be a better version of myself.”
“I’m not quite normal in technique, but where I dare to push myself is here [motions to head] & here [motions to heart]. My body is the result of that. I’m always in constant work. I’m still investing in myself. You have to invest if you want to grow. Every single day I try to be a better version of myself.”
On what fuels his energetic lifestyle, we ask what tunes are on rotation that help keep him amped up. “I have a game day playlist. It has a bit of house, reggaeton, hip-hop,” he shares. For someone who so often relies on the visceral, he discusses music’s impact on a more spiritual level. “Music isn’t always about the physicality of it, it’s more about how it makes you feel in those moments. The songs are particular songs that help me feel more connected with myself before I go into the storm,” Hernandez says, referring to the nickname given to his matches. “Music for me becomes the calm before the storm.” You can check out Chicharito’s Game Day playlist below, which he has exclusively shared with Remezcla.
While we are used to seeing Chicharito’s inimitable talents play out on the pitch, his work off the field is equally impressive as his mantra extends towards developing the best versions of himself and the communities that have reciprocally built support around him. We touch base on his organizational work in the last years, which develops safe and green spaces for younger generations to thrive in their own soccer journeys. “Instead of playing in the streets, they can play in a proper field with proper balls, equipment, even managers and coaches,” he says. “They can just play soccer. In the end, that’s the message. You don’t have to be in front of 100,000 fans. Of course, that’s the dream, but as long as you just want to play the sport, you should be able to just enjoy it.”
As important as an issue of accessibility, we discuss inclusivity and his public support against discrimination that has long cultured the world’s favorite sport. We touch upon FIFA’s recent direction toward stricter penalizations and regulations and he comments, “Thankfully, I feel like things are turning around. Hopefully, inclusiveness can keep progressing so that the necessary changes in every country that need to happen can happen, so everyone can have the right to living without worrying about discrimination, harassment, or abuse.” He ends by emphasizing that change can always start with ourselves.“The more you accept yourself, the more you’re going to accept other people.”
Following themes of bringing equity to the playing field, we discuss his surprising latest venture that shares the ethos. Recently, Hernandez announced he has joined forces with Intuit Quickbooks to help elevate the platform’s mission — aiming to champion small Latine businesses via accounting software. “It’s in the same category of opportunity. Supporting, helping, and providing the best tools in the way that allows people to focus on doing what they do best, but with better organization and circumstances,” he says.
For those contemplating taking the first steps towards their own success, he shares encouragement: “Of course you can! You can dream big and you can become whoever you want to become. It takes work. It takes fighting. It takes order. It takes help. It takes support. It takes a lot of stuff that all people need. We are just here to help so you can fly, but the wings are yours. The flight is yours.”
So can we expect new small businesses from the man himself in the near future? “I have some businesses and partnerships… There’s one in particular — I’m not going to explain exactly what. I want to leave a little bit in suspense, but I think it’s going to be amazing for [LA].”
We’re left on a cliffhanger as our conversation with Chicharito nears its end, ironically close to where we began — on our toes, anticipating his next bold move and imaginando all the cosas chingonas from Chicharito that are still yet to come.