CFC's Juan Hernandez grateful for opportunity to play in America
Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Juan Hernandez grew up with one goal in mind -- playing the sport he loves in the United States.
Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Juan Hernandez grew up with one goal in mind -- playing the sport he loves in the United States. After years of hard work and a couple set backs along the way, Juan was able to make that dream a reality in the Scenic City.
"When I was fourteen, I just came for a month to learn English, and I liked it. I liked it a lot" says Hernandez. "I liked the culture and how it's sports oriented. So I liked that and said I kind of want to go to the states. So I started looking into it and saw that there were scholarships, which I didn't know what it was. And they (parents) said ok, go find something."
Juan received a scholarship to play soccer at Bethel University, in Makenzie, Tennessee, where the culture shock was hard to ignore.
"It was different. I'm from a big city so going to a really small town, in a different country with a different language was a really good experience."
Due to ineligibility, Juan was only allowed to play soccer for one year. He then decided to give the "other" kind of football a try, and became the kicker on the Bethel football team.
"It was a funny transition to be honest because I didn't know the game and I didn't know the rules. So I was always on the sideline and said just let me know when I go and Ill go. Just let me know when I go kick it and I will kick it. That's all I needed to do and it was funny."
It wasn't until several years later that Juan was reunited with soccer again, all thanks to a tryout given by current CFC head coach Bill Elliot.
"I was like coach can I practice one day just because I love soccer. So I practiced one day and he was like do you want to stay? And I was like yes. So the next thing I know I'm playing in front of 18,000 people in Finley."
Juan now enters his fourth season with the boys in blue, where he hopes to be a starter for the third year in a row.
Juan says he still loves playing soccer just as much as when he was a little boy, and he hopes he never takes that for granted.
"Since I love it, I put in the effort and the time and I don't think that's a secret. You put in the time and effort and it pays off in the future."
The Chattanooga Football Club returns to action Saturday night when it takes on Detroit City FC on the road.