By Jonny Rico (Co-Host of The Mexican Soccer Show)
If Hector Miguel Herrera’s passport read Brazil or Argentina, he would already be in Europe and would have cost between 15-20 million Euros.
That´s because the Tijuana, Baja California native Herrera, 22, is a little bit special. While most central midfielders coming out of Mexico can be defined as either attacking midfielder or one that shields the defense, Herrera can do both, a box to box player with electric pace and stamina to match.
For some Mexicans making the jump to Europe, and especially the Premier League, there is a question mark about physique and whether they have the physical presence to match their technical ability. Herrera should have no problem in that regard. “The skunk,” as he known, battles hard in the midfield to win the ball from opposing players, but he is no water-carrier, as Eric Cantona once described Didier Deschamps. Once he has the ball at his feet, Herrera possesses the ability to seek a killer pass, or take the ball up the field himself. Herrera also has an eye for goal and has scored key goals for Mexico. At the other end of the pitch, he has also put in some game saving performances. He is a true asset in both defense and attack.
Herrera was promoted by Pachuca to the first team making his professional debut on January 1, 2012 after graduating from the Under-20 squad. He was brought to Pachuca after getting spotted playing as a teenager in the third tier of Mexican football.
His performances at Pachuca were noticed by Luis Fernando Tena, one of Jose Manuel ‘Chepo’ De La Torre’s (Mexican National Team head coach) assistants and manager of Mexico´s Olympic team, but Herrera wasn´t called into last year´s Copa America squad or October´s Pan American Games. In fact, it was only in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament that Herrera got his first taste of Mexico U-23 action.
Herrera did not let his chance go to waste and really shined for Mexico in the Olympic qualifiers hosted in the United States. He was one of the key players in this tournament and a big reason why Mexico won the competition. His standout performances cemented a spot at London 2012 as well as a regular in the Pachuca first team.
Herrera would go on to win player of the tournament in the 2012 Toulon Tournament and lead Mexico to winning the prestigious youth tournament for the first time. During this tournament in France, Herrera took the starting spot in central midfield away from Chivas´ Jorge Enriquez, who had been the regular at the Copa America and the Under 20 World Cup in Colombia, where he won the 3rd best player in the tournament award. It was during this time that European clubs started taking serious notice of the Tijuana native.
Herrera kicked off the 2012 London Olympics in the starting lineup, but an injury during group play and then suspension limited his involvement and saw Enriquez take back the starting spot. They were both on the starting lineup on that historic Saturday when Mexico defeated Brazil 2-1 to win the Olympic Gold Medal. Upon arriving in Mexico it was announced that the knee cartilage injury Herrera picked up during the Olympics would require surgery and he would miss 4-6 weeks.
There are a few doubts for me with Herrera. He has not yet completed 2000 minutes for Pachuca’s first division team. He has really shined in age limit competitions for Mexico but needs to show form against true professionals on a consistent basis. Then there is the issue with his knee …
… In spite of the few doubts I have I know that there is tremendous potential in Hector Herrera and fully deserves the attention of Manchester United and other European clubs.
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