There’s been very little coverage in the English-language media of Mexico’s triumph at the Under-17 world championship, save for FIFA’s official reports.
England actually performed well, losing to Germany in the quarter-finals. But their early progress through the group stages went virtually unreported in the English media.
Mexico’s Under-17 side enjoyed home advantage – more than 100,000 watched them beat Uruguay in the Azteca stadium finale – but they also enjoyed a status within Mexican football that English youth teams have never had.
The Under-20 World Cup kicks off in Colombia in two weeks time. One of the most disappointing aspects, from an English perspective, will be the number of players who will be “persuaded” from taking part by their Premier League clubs.
One of the most interesting aspects of Javier Hernandez’s early career is how few games he played for Guadalajara. In his interview with Hernandez for this month’s magazine, Martin del Palacio Langer explains that Hernandez’s involvement with Mexico’s youth team held back his initial progress at club level:
“Unlike in England, Mexico’s underage national teams are taken very seriously. Typically, their players leave their clubs to train with them full-time six months before a tournament. “Chicharito” was part of the Under-17 squad and then played the Under-20 World Cup, and that caused other strikers to overtake him in Chivas’ pecking order.”
Hernandez was a member of Mexico squad that triumphed at the Under-20 World Cup in Canada in 2007. However, the stars of that side were Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos, two players who were hailed as the leaders of Mexico’s “Golden Generation” but who have since failed to shine for the European clubs, notably Arsenal and Barcelona, who were impressed by their early promise and signed them for hefty fees.
In contrast, Hernandez’s career only sparked into life in late 2009, when he embarked on a spectacular goalscoring spree for Guadalajara He scored eight goals in the first five games of the 2010 season with Chivas and four in three matches for the Mexican national team.
Manchester United were quick to spot Hernandez’s talent and, mindful that his price might increase if he performed well at the World Cup, agreed a deal before the tournament.
Hernandez’s subsequent progress at United offers proof that international youth football can provide players with the perfect platform to launch successful club careers.