I love sports. Duh, everyone knows that. However, as crazy as I may get about the games, I have never really been one to go crazy over a certain player. Well, that’s not exactly true, I used to idolize Sammy Sosa when he was smacking homers onto Waveland Ave. from 1998 until 2003. Somewhere between the corked bat, the steroids and the busted boombox in the dugout I lost my fanaticism for players. I like them, but I don’t revere them.
Then there was Javier Hernandez. Better known as Chicharito worldwide, he became the first Mexican player to play for the world’s most important/popular team, Manchester United. Not only that, but he had been a goal scoring machine for my two favorite teams in the world, Chivas and Mexico, for the better part of two years. He alone has brought me from the brink of athlete reverence. I would cheer for any team he played on, no questions asked. He is my favorite player of all-time and it’s not even close.
Yet, just because an athlete is a role model on the field, doesn’t necessarily mean it translates off of it. There are endless cases of players being jerks (to keep this PG) to fans, teammates and family members. In fact, I would say a majority of superstar athletes are pampered to the point where they lose their sense of belonging and feel they deserve everything. Not Chicharito though. From all accounts he as stalwart off the field as he is on it. Don’t believe it? Take a quick read at this story making its way around the interwebs.
The nicest ‘celebrity’ I’ve ever served was a young footballer. Strange to associate footballers with manners, I know.
He walked towards me, and as somebody who’s son is a fan of the team he plays for I knew who he was as soon as he spoke to me.
At a hundred miles an hour and clearly flustered he said “I was wondering please if you could help me Miss. Do you sell – I’m sorry, I cannot pronounce it in English. Tagleeeteeelea. I’m sorry. That doesn’t sound right. I can write it for you…..oh but my spelling not so good either. Is OK. Thank you anyway.”
I quickly reassured him I knew what he wanted and I’d show him where it was.
The whole walk around to the pasta aisle he apologised for not being able to find it himself, for ‘troubling’ me and even for his pronunciation.
When we got there it was like I’d taken him to a case of buried treasure. his face lit up and he said ‘Oh this is it. Yes! Thank you so very much Miss.’
Then he pulled out a 5 pound note and said ‘for you’
I laughed and asked him what it was for and he said ‘A tip. Because you help me so much.’ When i explained that we can’t accept tips and it’s not generally customary to even be offered them, he blushed and said he was confused with tipping because it’s very different where he’s from – but to know that he was very grateful.
I finally told him I knew who he was and that my son was a fan. He was very pleased, and we talked for a few moments about his team and then we said our goodbyes.
I told my son when I got home and his face lit up, although he was annoyed at me for not getting an autograph! I didn’t even think to ask!
The next day though, I was called by name to the customer service desk – and who stood there but my mystery footballer. He must have read the name on my badge. It turned out that he’d brought my son a signed shirt and even brought an unsigned photo with him so that he could dedicate it personally to my son once he’d asked me for his name.
Truly nice person.
His name? Most of you probably won’t have heard of him. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez.