He stepped firmly onto the turf of the Bernabeu. He caressed the ball, ran up the middle of the field, passed in front of the photographers, never stopped smiling and let the last rays of the Spanish summer shine on his No. 14. Nothing in him faltered. He knew where he was, what he wanted and where he was headed.
Javier Hernández took the first Monday of the month of September of the year 2014 to appear on a sunny afternoon on the same field that witnessed the glories of Alfredo Di Stefano, Gento, Ferenc Puskas, Hugo Sanchez and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Which team do I belong to? Real Madrid of course!" said a smiling Chicharito.
Many will say that he is trading one "bench" for another. And that may be true, but there is another way to look at it: it is also a magnificent opportunity to continue on at the highest level of soccer possible.
There are people touched by destiny: Chicharito is one of them. The rest is part of his talent, his hard work and discipline, but one thing is clear: no one gets to Real Madrid "by accident."
To be a player on Manchester United or Real Madrid, you first have to resemble one. And "Chicharito" does resemble one, in his mannerisms, his bearing and even in his smile. It is also true that he doesn't compromise himself, he doesn't get into "trouble" in front of the microphone. He, better than anyone, knows that "trouble" and big challenges will appear soon enough on the field. And one of those challenges is to get more playing time than he had in the Premier League.
Madrid loved Radamel Falcao, but Radamel Falcao did not love what Madrid offered him. This Colombian is headed to Manchester. Chicharito is not, nor will he be, a better player than No. 9 Karim Benzema, starter for Real Madrid. The Frenchman is a more well-rounded player, but Hernandez has his own characteristics and appears to have accepted the ground rules of his career: seize every opportunity that arises.
"I've come to join Real Madrid," Hernández responds when asked about vying with Benzema for a starting position.
He never said "compete." He said he had come to "join." I guess the two terms might not be so different after all. Chicharito's arrival at Real Madrid unleashed controversy and criticism on the social networks. Hernández is what he is: Success is often accompanied by envy. At 26 years old, he already has a quite a story: he started out with Chivas, a very popular club in Mexico; he already played in two World Cups; he reached Europe by way of this "giant" called Manchester United and now dreams within the walls of the most famed and glorious club of international soccer. Ladies and gentlemen, if that isn't a "fairy tale," I don't know what is.
David Faitelson is one of Mexico's most popular sports journalists, having worked for TV Azteca before joining ESPN. He is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.