Sports

Ferguson praises Chicharito, backs Houston NRG Stadium for 2026 World Cup

London, May 13 (EFE).- Sir Alex Ferguson, legendary Manchester United manager, looks back fondly on Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s first goal for the ‘Red Devils’ in a pre-season match 11 years ago at the NRG Stadium in Houston, a potential venue for the Fifa World Cup in 2026.

The former United coach of 26 years told EFE that Chicharito’s goal drove the Mexican fans who were in Houston “crazy” as he announced his arrival in the team where he would spend the next six years of his career.

Chicharito joined United in the summer of 2010 from Guadalajara and that season became the highest scoring Mexican in a Premier League season, with 13 goals, a record surpassed only last season by Raúl Jiménez.

The Aztec striker made his debut in the preseason with ‘Red Devils’ at the NRG Stadium in Houston, which has been put forward as one of the favorites to host six matches at the 2026 World Cup.

In that match, a United team featuring Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes faced an MLS all-star squad that included Landon Donovan, a fixture in Major League Soccer, as its most recognizable face.

“When we were designated to play against the MLS All-Stars, I was really more interested in the stadium, which was used for multipurpose competitions like American football, baseball and basketball, but soccer? What will the pitch be like?” Ferguson told EFE.

“I was delighted to say it was excellent and it created the platform for a really interesting game. The American league has been improving every year, and I know from experience where soccer has made an amazing impact on the game today”.

United won the match 5-2, with Chicharito coming on in the 63rd minute to score his side’s fifth 20 minutes later.

“Houston was an amazing venue; to my mind the 70,000 supporters inside the stadium had an electrifying effect on all of us, plus it was Chicha’s first goal and the Mexican contingent went mad, it was ‘welcome to United!’. But it reflected the impact that soccer was making in Houston and with the Houston stadium as the perfect platform,” added Ferguson, who left United and went into retirement in 2013.

Chicharito, who after that goal scored 59 goals for United before leaving on loan to Real Madrid, was one of the first Mexican soccer stars to create that link between the country and the city of Houston.

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