Chicharito has revealed the reason behind his decision to swap squad numbers this season.
The West Ham United striker became synonymous with the No14 shirt during the early part of his career with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Mexico, before switching to No7 during two prolific seasons in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen. Then, on his arrival in east London in 2017, Chicharito found the No14 being worn by Pedro Obiang, so took the No17 shirt instead.
This summer, following the departures of Marko Arnautovic and Andy Carroll, the No7 and No9 shirts became available and have been taken, following a friendly discussion, but Andriy Yarmolenko and Chicharito respectively.
People are going to take any interpretation they want but, for me, it is the player who makes the player always, and not the number who makes the player
“I changed my number because I wanted to change it!” he smiled. “There was a possibility to change the number and there were two numbers available – nine and seven – and Yarmolenko told me he really wanted seven, which was the number I wore in Leverkusen and I said ‘Yes, don’t worry, I’ll take number nine’.
“When I was in Mexico, I wouldn’t have known the number 14 was going to be as big in my career as it was, because as a striker you normally play with those numbers.
“I played in all my World Cups and for my other clubs [Manchester United and Real Madrid] in the number 14 and I changed my number for the first time in my whole career when I signed for Leverkusen.
“Then, when I signed here, the 17 was available and I took it. Now another number is so I took the number nine. People are going to take any interpretation they want but, for me, it is the player who makes the player always, and not the number who makes the player.”
Chicharito will wear his new No9 shirt again on Saturday evening, when West Ham take on Newcastle United in a Premier League Asia Trophy third/fourth-place play-off in the Chinese city of Shanghai.
The 31-year-old has proved immensely popular among Chinese fans and his respect for them and their country is mutual.
“It’s my second time here in China,” he confirmed. “I came in 2012 with my old club Manchester United and we played one of our games here against Shanghai Shenhua and I like it!
“Last time I was here I liked it a lot and to be here in this great country bring this tournament to play in front of the Chinese fans is very good and very nice. Shanghai is a worldwide city, it’s very big, massive and international.
“It’s very hot here, but of course I am more used to this than most of the other players because of coming from my country, Mexico. I had to adapt to the weather when I first moved to England and now I’m adapting again here!”