If someone knows well the emotional labyrinths that must be traveled to be able to decide between two countries to represent a soccer team, that is Hérculez Gómez.
The forward of Mexican parents who was born in Los Angeles, California, understood from an early age that his feelings of nationality were divided.
On the one hand, Mexican traditions were instilled in him while at the same time he absorbed what was American popular culture.
His development on the court led him to debut in a semi-professional team in San Diego, California, and thus began to climb the ladder until he became a striker for the United States team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
His arrival in the Stars and Stripes squad was largely due to the brilliant season he had with the Liga MX team Puebla, with which he was crowned scoring champion with 10 goals in the Bicentennial Tournament.
On that occasion, Gómez shared the record for most goals with Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, from Chivas de Guadalajara, and with Johan Fano from Atlante.
Gómez said in an interview with Al Daythat his performance with Puebla opened the door for coach Bob Bradley to choose him as a member of the United States team at the World Cup in South Africa.
Before, in 2005, Mexico wanted Gómez to join the team that would attend the Pan American Games and it was there that the Mexican-American had to make the decision that would mark the rest of his life.
“For me it was an easy choice, I was born in Los Angeles, I grew up all my life in the United States,” said the 40-year-old former player who is now a commentator for ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
In the interview, Gómez talks about how difficult it is for today’s Mexican-American players to decide which team they want to represent, gives his opinion about the upcoming performance of the Mexican and United States teams at the World Cup in Qatar, and shares how his passion for the soccer and tequila have led him to make an association between the two things.
Read also: Ricardo Pepi: The boy of humble origins who dreams of becoming the young wonder of FC Dallas
Up to date: Why do Mexican-American players today have such a hard time deciding on one team or another?
Herculez Gomez: The truth is, we are touching very delicate fibers, identity fibers, fibers that at such a young age you never think you are going to touch.
I may be one of the most famous Mexican-American soccer players, and it’s not because I did super well, but because there weren’t many of us back then.
In my time there were no social networks, there was no television coverage today, so I imagine a Ricardo Pepi (former FC Dallas player) at 18, having to decide where to go, which team to play with, how you feel, who you are, to publish it to the world, because everyone is asking you, to decide that after a transfer of 20 million to the Bundesliga, it must not be easy at all.
The truth is that in these cases there is no right or wrong decision.
Whatever you decide, some are going to dislike you or you are going to disappoint a sector of people and that is scary, you are aware that you are going to fail someone and that does not feel like a father.
Now, these players are very young, you’re not asking a 40-year-old man like me, ‘Hey, decide between Mexico and the United States,’ you’re asking a child, a teenager, and that’s quite difficult.
That’s why today’s players suddenly get tense when talking about it and one of the worst things is that at such a young age you feel like you’re from here, that you’re from there, but you’re not from anywhere.
That is a feeling that many in this country have, Mexican Americans, Chicanos, Hispanic Americans.
Now, add to that one of the biggest football rivalries on the continent, and it’s a bit confusing for young footballers.
AD: Could it be that the Mexican-American players refuse to express their real feelings so as not to close a door, either with one team or another?
HG: It is quite confusing for these kids, my best recommendation for these young people is that they try to evolve, to improve, and when the time comes to decide, be honest, but be grateful because we have the great opportunity to represent two cultures, two countries, we have something very nice in our hands that not everyone has.
Another thing that must be taken into account is that the parents of these players arrive in the United States and watch Mexican soccer day and night and suddenly the child is born here in the United States, grows up here, studies here, but the power of Mexican soccer is so strong that it influences parents, grandparents, uncles, then a 15 or 16-year-old boy, people who are your family, who trust them, put pressure on you.
AD: Which team will have a better performance in the World Cup in Qatar, Mexico or the United States?
HG: It’s complicated, the reason is because both may not go to the next round.
The United States group is very difficult because you have England, who are one of the favourites, you have Wales, who with Gareth Bale can complicate things and the game against Iran will be a high-tension game.
For Mexico, it all comes down to the first game against Poland.
If he wins that game, he has a chance of going to the next round because in reality, Argentina, in my opinion, is the favorite to win the World Cup, so both Mexico and the United States will have a hard time getting ahead in their groups.
If they advance, Mexico will face much more difficult crosses with France or Denmark, possibly.
The United States would have an easier path facing teams like Senegal, Qatar or the Netherlands (Holland).
AD: How easy or difficult was your transition from player to TV commentator?
HG: It is always difficult to enter this business of communication, you learn the hard way, so to speak.
I had the opportunity and privilege that my last years as a player could be combined with press work for Fox.
On a FIFA date, while other players were going to their national team, I was going to work the matches for a television station and that’s where I started in 2016 doing the Copa América.
When I retire as a player in that year, ESPN He gives me a contract and I started doing only English, but since they didn’t use me much then ESPN Sports He also took me with them, it was not easy.
This business is a lot of work, as a player I trained for two hours, after a bit of rehabilitation and taking good care of myself, but press work is work, it’s nice and I like it, but this is work.
Tequila Camarena has invited Hérculez Gómez to be its figurehead to promote the Clásico Real Madrid vs. Barcelona with a campaign in which the participants will be drawn to be able to watch the match that will take place on October 16 at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in luxury.
The winner of the contest Camarena’s Breakfast FC You can invite four people to a large mansion where they will have a personal chef who will cook delicious culinary creations and also a mixologist will prepare cocktails with Camarena Tequila such as Birria-Chelada and Café Mole.
Sir Cardian’s pajamas also sponsor this event.
AD: Are you a tequila fan?
HG: I like tequila, my parents are from Los Altos, Jalisco, so it’s in my blood (laughs). For me, this is a perfect combination because Tequila Camarena and soccer excite our people.