Being in a quiet city and closer to family motivated Cucho Hernandez to consider Columbus

·4 min read

Moving to Europe from Colombia as an 18-year-old was far from easy for Cucho Hernandez.

The Crew’s new striker was leaving home while still growing up, and his parents were becoming empty-nesters, as Cucho is their only child.

Hernandez was also leaving a large extended family, including a cousin whom he described as a brother. Being on his own took some getting used to, but he made it work.

Now, he’s back in the Western hemisphere and hoping to acquire Visas for at least his parents, if not others, so they can visit him and see him play.

"It's difficult,” he said through a club interpreter. “Part of the reason I came here was so I could be near my family."

Cucho Hernandez, who was introduced to Crew fans during Sunday's game against Philadelphia, said he hopes to be with Columbus for "many years."
Cucho Hernandez, who was introduced to Crew fans during Sunday's game against Philadelphia, said he hopes to be with Columbus for "many years."

Cucho Hernandez's reasons for choosing Columbus

At 23, the striker has arrived from Watford with a more than $10 million transfer fee attached to his name and perhaps the highest expectations a Crew player has ever had.

He's longing for a place to settle down while advancing his career.

"It was a little complicated arriving there at 18,” Hernandez said of his stint in Europe. “I had to get used to things quickly because if you get used to things quickly, work will go better. I wanted a quiet place. I want to be in a good club like Columbus, and I hope to be here many years.”

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Hernandez said Columbus reminded him of his hometown of Pereira – calm with not much traffic. There, he was looked after by his mom while his dad worked as an independent contractor.

His light-hearted personality comes from them, he said. It showed when he told reporters at his introductory press conference, “I look good in yellow,” when asked if he only plays for teams that wear the color.

"I'm a charismatic guy. I'm Colombian, it's normal,” he said with a laugh. “I always want to help. I want to be available for my teammates for anything that they need. I consider myself a very happy guy, positive, and I think if there's a good environment ... you're able to get good results.”

Hernandez quickly found success in the second Spanish division with Huesca. He scored 16 goals with six assists in 35 games, which helped lead to Huesca's promotion to La Liga. The success wasn’t the same in the top flight, but his 11 goals and seven assists in 79 matches – including goals against Real Madrid and Barcelona – were enough to earn him a spot with Watford.

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Had it not been for an injury toward the end of this past Premier League season, Hernandez might have continued his streak of three goals in five games and been out of the Crew’s price range. Had Watford not been relegated, Hernandez might not have been looking elsewhere.

Crew striker Cucho Hernandez told reporters he's glad to be in Columbus, partly because it reminds him of his hometown of Pereira in Columbia.
Crew striker Cucho Hernandez told reporters he's glad to be in Columbus, partly because it reminds him of his hometown of Pereira in Columbia.

Hernandez's relationship with Issa Tall

His relationship with Crew director of player personnel Issa Tall was also a big factor in Hernandez coming to Columbus.

"Issa has been one of the most important people, if not the most important person for this deal to occur,” he said. “He's a great person and I really appreciate the effort he made because I know it's not easy.”

Hernandez’s parents didn’t get to see him in England. The hope is to get them to Columbus as soon as possible. And Hernandez's move has permitted him to entertain other hopes.

"My dream of being with the national team remains within reach,” he said. “It'll depend on the team doing a good job and what I'm able to assist the team so I can reach the national team. As far as being the (Crew’s) main goal scorer, it was very important to me because I think that if I do well and the team does well, we'll be able to succeed together. But I'm a player that thinks about the team first, and if the goals come, then that's even better.”

jmyers@dispatch.com

@_jcmyers

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: What attracted Cucho Hernandez to Columbus, sign with Crew