For many fans of a certain time, the Mexican national team was represented by a long, blond haired, striker that went by the glorious name of El Matador. Long before there was a Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, a different Hernandez captivated fans. In a 15-year career, Luis Hernandez played for 11 different teams in three different countries, but his accomplishments with the national team will be what fans most remember. To this day, Hernandez still holds the team record for most goals scored in a World Cup (four in 1998). Hernandez is also tied for third-most Mexican national team goals (35).
Recently, Hernandez visited New York City to promote the Mexican national team's friendly with Wales on May 27 at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Though Hernandez often acts as an ambassador for the Mexican team's various U.S. stops, he is far from content with being just an old familiar face. He has strong opinions about the game -- among his various ideas is a plan for Mexican football to return to one single tournament instead of a split season, and he believes MLS should forgo a draft system and allow teams more independence. Hernandez hopes to return to football in some capacity soon. He recently sat down with the El Tri blog to discuss his career, his thoughts on football, and his future.
Q: How do you compare the national teams now with the ones in your day?
A: The organization has gotten better. They prepare better and they have gotten very good results at the junior levels. There has been a tremendous growth at that level. That's helped build solid players. Of course I'll say that my team was better. I think the current team needs to be a little bit more aggressive and to perhaps sacrifice a little bit of personal glory on the field.
Q: What were the youth programs like in your era?
A: In my time it was very limited. When you went to a youth tournament, it required you to have talent and to be educated separately. We didn't have a lot of sponsors. We had to have everything with the clubs. The kids now are more fortunate and with things like the internet, they can visualize themselves as players. Now there are more players with clubs at the youth levels. It's a process that didn't exist back then.