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Interviews

Onel Hernandez: We have to fight and burn from the start

23 June 2020

Norwich City players will be running and fighting for the club and for the city against Everton on Wednesday, according to Onel Hernandez.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Hernandez reflected on Friday’s defeat to Southampton, the relegation battle and more. You can read the full Q&A transcript below.

How was lockdown for you, getting over the knee injury that you had?

OH: Very weird, because we’d never had a situation like that in life. I spent a lot of time with my little daughter and fiancée, so I’m happy that I could do that because you don’t have so much time when the football season starts.

Did you take time to do anything outside of staying in shape?

OH: I was moving from my old apartment to a house, but as we were only allowed to go out for a jog, that’s the only thing I did. We spent time in the garden with our dog so we had a lot of fun.

What do you think was missing from the game against Southampton?

OH: We were very prepared for the game – worked hard and trained hard to know what would come. We knew it would be a completely different situation without fans at the stadium, but I think we did good in the first 20 minutes, making a lot of chances.

At this level, if you don’t use those chances, the other team is not stupid. If they get good chances, they will score goals.

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We have to stick together and try our best on Wednesday against Everton. It was definitely not a good game from us and we all have to look in the mirror that it was a horrible game and not to let it happen again.

It’s not important that we play our game or that it looks beautiful. What’s important now is that everyone is running and fighting for the club and for the city, giving everything to avoid having such a game again.

You’re known for your speed. Do you feel fully back to match sharpness?

OH: I feel very good. I would say I’m lucky with when the break came, or I would not have made the games, but because of the break I’m very fit, back to where I was before.

How will the battles you went through in the Championship help you now?

OH: We had a lot of different situations last season. At the start, we weren’t believing that we’d go up, just that we’d stick together. We knew each other for a long time.

It’s different because we won nearly every game, whereas now we’re down at the bottom, but we still try our best and train well ever day.

Everyone is very positive and that’s what makes us a good team. We have to keep going on.

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What are your thoughts ahead of this game against Everton?

OH: For us, there’s nothing to sing about. We don’t have to care about Everton. We play at home and we have to fight and burn from the start.

There are no excuses anymore. We have to get the three points at home, win the duels, and all stick together as a team.

We have the quality here – a good team with good players on the pitch and the bench – but we have to really burn on the day.

I come from a club in Germany where they had a similar situation. The football doesn’t have to look good, we just have to fight.

Speaking of fighting, tell us what you went through to make the journey from Cuba to the Premier League.

OH: I would dream to play for the Cuba national team, but it’s hard because there are a lot of politics there. The journey from Germany to a new country where I couldn’t speak English like I can now, it’s very crazy, but that’s what I love in life.

You can change your life, go to another country and meet new people, learn languages, have different food and stuff like that.

We were very successful with a brilliant season last year, and that helped me become the first Cuban Premier League player and goalscorer.

My country is in a very difficult situation. For young boys who have the dream of being a footballer, it’s all possible in life.

I’m the only Cuban to play in the Premier League, but there are others in Germany, Finland, America and so on. We know each other and look after each other. It’s like a big community. We fight for the dream that one day we can come home and play for our country.

What was it like for you when you scored that goal in the Premier League?

OH: We were already 3-0 down, but for me it was a very important goal because it showed that I can score on that level. Especially against a team like Manchester United, it is possible but you have to work hard for that.


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