Pablo Hernández at El País
(Photo from Juanín’s twitter! By the way, Pablo’s on twitter too, but in an Andrés Iniesta/Cristiano Ronaldo kind of way.)
Pablo Hernández is a relatively new and unknown face to La Roja fans, since he only received his first call-up for last year’s Confederations Cup. He missed out on the 2008 Eurocopa and 2010 World Cup, and made a return to La Roja earlier this month. Anyway, El País had a nice interview with him yesterday, which will help you to get to know him better!
Pablo Hernández (Castellón, 1985) cannot stop yawning during the interview – which he later says was the longest of his life – because he didn’t get enough sleep due to the national team’s trip to Scotland.
Q: What did you see through the windows of your house when you were a kid?
A: I saw kids playing football on the street. Until I was five years old, I wasn’t allowed to go out alone, so I would yell at them to come get me. It was in the Rafalafena neighborhood, in Castellón. The tradition of playing on the streets has been lost. Later on, I moved, and since we lived right on a plaza, we would shoot at the door of a church. Each time there was a mass, we had to stop. And the priest would come out to scold us. (Sound familiar?) From the time I was three until I was five, I went to a school run by nuns and from the time I was five until I was 16, one run by priests. The nuns would run after us to get us into the classrooms.
Q: How many things did you break at home?
A: I wasn’t allowed to bring the ball in, but pitchers, ashtrays, vases, plates… a lot.
Q: What you were nine, you fractured your collar bone…
A: While I was playing football, a kid fell on top of me. Two years later, I broke both arms: I fell from a great height in a park, and since I fell backwards, I instinctively put out my arms. I spent one and a half months with my arms in casts. They were taken off on a Friday and on Saturday I had a game. The doctor told me that I couldn’t play for another two weeks. My father, who was the coach, told me that he would only allow me to dress for the game, but I kept bugging him until he put me in the game. I fell two or three times and my mother suffered a lot.
Q: Your first boots?
A: From Marco. They had to last me the entire season, because we couldn’t buy any more. They were the most economical ones. My parents had to work a lot (in the ceramic industry) to raise my sister and me, and I will always be grateful for that.
Q: You have a photo with Butragueño, how did that happen?
A: When I was three, the national team came to Castellón. My father knew someone who worked at the Castalia stadium who let us enter. I have a lot of affection for Butragueño; he was one of the greats.
Q: What was it like playing for Rafalafena?
A: It was a neighborhood team which now has a fenced-in field with an artificial surface, a cafeteria, a gym… before, it was a field where people would walk their dogs, the goals had fallen over and there weren’t any locker rooms… They wouldn’t register anyone younger than seven years old, but my father let play when I was four with the registration of another kid who hadn’t shown up. When Castellón came for me, it was the maximum that a kid from the province could aspire to, because at that time Villarreal was playing in the third division. I went to (the club) Valencia when I was 16.
Q: Why didn’t you play for the national team in any of the youth teams?
A: There are people like Aduriz or me who have never passed through the youth teams. And there are cases of the opposite. Each player has his time. If I hadn’t persevered after being let down, I wouldn’t be here. That’s the key.
Q: How were you let down?
A: When I graduated from the juvenil team of Valencia, they told me that there was no place for me, and that they wanted to cede me to Onda. The easiest thing would have been to think that my dream had ended and that I was destined to fight for a place in the third division, but I only thought about showing that they had made a mistake. And Luis Milla, the school’s director, took me back.
Q: How about your time at Cádiz?
A: It was a very intense six months. Everything happened very rapidly, from playing in Segunda B to feeling I was someone important in the second division, before 20,000 spectators. And after three months, I knew that I was going to be playing with Getafe the next year. I go to Cádiz every summer; I like the joy that you can breathe there.
Q: And in Getafe, you met your idol, Michael Laudrup.
A: It was great. I have a lot of his shirts, from Ajax and Madrid. He told me to keep on trying, even if it didn’t work out. He gave me confidence. Sometimes, if things don’t work out, you stop trying and that’s a mistake. I’ve always been very persevering.
Q: In your debut in the Primera, you scored against Sevilla off a free kick three minutes in, the same game where Antonio Puerta passed away.
A: Yes, I will always remember that game, for my first goal in the Primera, but with a bitter taste for what happened.
Q: You don’t take free kicks anymore.
A: They don’t let me take any. Villa was there, and there are other shooters. I’ve always liked to, but…
Q: Your favorite goal?
A: Against Barça two years ago, in the Mestallla. I went to the left, where we had a throw-in, to form a wall with Mata. I went between Alves and Puyol and established myself at the second post. Similar to the play I tried on Tuesday against Scotland.
– and a bit of club news, just because I like how he refers to Silva and Villa –
Q: How has the team done so well despite the departures of Silva and Villa?
A: Because when the two Davides left, we told ourselves, “they’ve left and there’s no need to lament. We are capable of moving forward.”
Q: What was it like debuting with Spain?
A: From the time I debuted, during the Confederations Cup against South Africa, I knew that I wanted to show that I was just one more player and that I could bring a lot of things. Of course I was hurt not to be called up for the World Cup, but I’ve fought to return and I’ve achieved that.
Q: You like cars a lot.
A: Yes, I have two, a BMW and an Audi. I follow Formula 1, and I have a kart. I drive it once in a while and I do laps alone, to avoid any possible collisions. You can get to 100 km per hour.
Q: Why did you like the book A tres metros sobre el cielo by Federico Moccia so much?
A: Because it reminds me of my childhood, when I had a scooter, which I would use to get to school and to go train. I stopped studying because I was working, I was dismantling furniture. We needed the money at home and then later on I had the luck that everything went well in Onda, that I started earning more and I could stop working. Life goes by quickly and you have to enjoy it.