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Onel Hernández stands out with Norwich City. Although he already played with Germany's U18s, his biggest wish today is to represent the national team of his native country
With 26 years of age and next to enter the maturity as a professional soccer player, the attacker Onel Hernández has a desire: to be able to represent his country of origin, Cuba, in the national soccer team. It is not usual to see an Antillean soccer player playing in Europe, but Hernández did it because of a life story that brought him closer to this sport of such low popularity on the Greater Antilles' island. So much so that his first participation in a national team was with Germany, his other country.
Although his is not currently the only story of Cuban soccer players in other leagues of the world, Onel's is undoubtedly the most attractive. In addition to him, it is necessary to mention Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders), Jorge Corrales (Chicago Fire) and Ariel Martinez (Miami FC) in Major League Soccer (MLS), and Maikel Reyes and Arichel Hernández, in Cruz Azul Hidalgo. Mexico, as Marca highlights.
The first thing Hernandez says when asked why he has not represented Cuba is that "The problem is that I do not have any contact with the Federation, I do not know how I can make that link, but if they call me, I'm going to Cuba to play with the team."
Onel arrived in Germany at the age of six, accompanied by his mother and sister, from his native Morón. They settled in the town of Güttersloh: "My father is German and my mother is Cuban, and it was my stepfather who supported me in soccer to change my life."
The striker, who plays mainly as a winger, told the media that "I feel Cuban, I'm Cuban by heart; if Germany and Cuba would play I would cheer Cuba, no doubt. My friends in Cuba play baseball or practice boxing. When I visit, everyone asks me why I play soccer. They think nobody makes money in this sport."
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His career in Europe and Norwich City
Hernandez works to export the 'Cuban revolution' to England, especially after having represented the German national team in the Under 18 category. At the beginning of 2018, he left the Eintracht Braunschweig from Germany's second category to sign for the Norwich City of the Championship in exchange for 2.5 million euros. There he became the first Cuban to score in that competition.
Marca details that moment. His two goals were in the last seven minutes of the match to seal the 2-2 of the 'canaries ' against Birmingham City. "What a feeling, thankful for my first two goals with Norwich, thank you very much to my teammates who worked hard and thank the fans for their support", he posted on his Twitter account after this match.
The truth is that the Cuban turned out to be a great deal for his previous club, the Eintracht Braunschweig, which only bought him for 150 thousand euros to Wolfsburg in 2016 and now sells it for 2.5 million. In that club, Onel scored six goals and distributed seven assists in 54 games. His former sports director, Marc Arnold, remembers him with pleasure: "When we arrived we knew of his potential, but Onel has far exceeded all our expectations".
Moreover, El Nuevo Herald assures that Norwich City, a team from the Championship or the English second division, was linked to Hernández for three and a half seasons, and that Onel began his career at Arminia Bielefeld. "I'm eager to play for Norwich. I come here to give everything for my teammates and the club and to win games," said the soccer player to the website of his new club, and in statements collected by the same media.
He leaves his mark on the field and outside of it
The BBC assures that the Norwich, a club to the south-east of England and with great history, occupies at the moment the second place in the table of the Championship and to a large extent thanks to Hernandez. For the first week of February he had scored four goals in 22 games played and in a very respected league in aspects such as stadium attendance, competitiveness and money generated.
The Cuban generates even positive comments in anyone. Phil Daley, a BBC journalist, assured through his social networks that Hernandez had become his "new favorite player". Other unidentified fans said things like "Awww, he's so cute he talks good about Norwich," or "you can give a person thousands of pounds a week, but what he chooses are the simple pleasures of life."
At age 14 he entered the youth divisions of Arminia Bielefeld, where he would debut as a professional at 17. After a season in the third division with the club, Hernandez went through the second teams of SV Werder Bremen and VfL Wolfsburg before being signed for his current club, Eintracht Braunschweig, at the beginning of the 2016/17 season. Its greatest virtue, according to the BBC, is that he always exceeds the expectations that are placed on him.
Between Cuba and Germany?
Hernandez has German nationality and, therefore, wore the shirt of that team in a friendly U18 against Ukraine in 2010. Despite this, it does not prevent him from playing with Cuba's national soccer team, something that he apparently looks forward to. "In my free time I try to spend as much time as possible with my family in Germany and in Cuba," he confessed.
The Caribbean spark of Hernandez is reflected, according to the official website of the Bundesliga, in his spontaneous personality, something that places him among the most spoiled players among the fans of the so-called 'Lions'. Technically, he is defined as a skillful and fast player, versatile in attack and with the ability to play with both legs. The aforementioned website says that Onel is the perfect blend of two cultures as dissimilar as they are rooted.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "Onel Hernandez: el futbolista cubano que la está 'rompiendo' en Europa"