Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has arrived at West Ham United’s team hotel in Germany.
The Mexico star was personally greeted by manager Slaven Bilic, who ended his two-year pursuit of the Little Pea when Hernandez completed his move to the Hammers on Monday.
The striker waited patiently in Paris for 48 hours for his UK Visa to be processed – applicants must leave the country to complete the process – before flying directly into Hannover on Thursday afternoon, where he was met by a Club delegation.
Hernandez then headed to the Hammers’ training base in the quiet town of Rotenburg, where he was met by Bilic and a large and enthusiastic corps of Mexican broadcasters.
The manager was delighted to welcome his new centre forward to Rotenburg, saying: “He’s very important to our project, he’s a very important player.
“When I signed for West Ham two years ago, then Chicharito was on his way out from Manchester United and I wanted him then. I contacted him and spoke to him a few times and he was very keen, even then.
“When he decided to go to Leverkusen, he was very polite and he called me and said ‘Sorry coach, I’ve opted for Leverkusen’ which was a really nice gesture from him.
“So now, after two years, when I found out he may leave Leverkusen, I called him again and we didn’t have to start from zero. We were laughing and said ‘We spoke two years ago’ and all that!
“It probably helped him to make his mind up that he wanted to join us that he knew that I wanted him two years ago and still we want him.”
Bilic is clearly a huge fan of Hernandez’s all-round qualities and his excitement at seeing how the 29-year-old will fit into his team is palpable.
“He’s a fantastic player,” he enthused. “He’s very experienced. He’s been everywhere and has scored goals for Manchester United first then for Real Madrid, for Bayer Leverkusen and for Mexico, and he’s still a boy. You can see it in every game he is happy to play football.
“His game is not only about goals. He runs, he presses and he does everything so he was our number one target on the list of centre forwards and we’re all extremely happy that he opted for us and I’m sure it’s going to be a really good move for him as well.”
The manager’s admiration for Hernandez goes back to the very start of his senior career with Manchester United, who he joined in 2010, and grew as he scored regularly for the Red Devils, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Mexico.
Indeed, Bilic’s love for Chicharito was not even affected when his goal helped knock his native Croatia out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup!
He’s been everywhere and has scored goals for Manchester United first then for Real Madrid, for Bayer Leverkusen and for Mexico, and he’s still a boy. You can see it in every game he is happy to play football
“When Chicharito started playing for Manchester United, I was at that time Croatia national team manager so I couldn’t transfer him to play for Croatia, but we spoke with friends and colleagues and said he was a great player,” Bilic confirmed.
“Then I was in Russia or Turkey and we didn’t talk about him because it was impossible to get Chicharito to Besiktas at that time, let’s say.
“When I signed for West Ham, I was talking with the Club, the Board, the Chairmen and my staff about which striker we could get. At that time, it was in the papers that Manchester United wanted to release him and we straight away tried to get him. He was always kind of a player that I wanted.”
The manager confirmed that Mexico’s all-time record scorer will not feature in this weekend’s Betway Cup double-header with Werder Bremen, as he played for his country at the FIFA Confederations Cup until 2 July, and will instead begin his own pre-season training schedule.