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ISL: Bengaluru FC Star Javi Hernandez Hails Sunil Chhetri As India’s Best Ever Player, Heaps Praise On Indian Football’s Competitive Nature


Kolkata: Bengaluru FC star midfielder Javi Hernandez has spent now 4 seasons in India and has plied trade for four different clubs. He has played in every domestic club final in India and has won two silverwares- The Indian Super League (ISL) with now defunct ATK and the prestigious Durand Cup in the recently concluded season with his current club. The Spaniard has been a big asset in the midfield in which ever club he has played as he can adapt to both defensive and attacking roles and has the dexterity to score worldies. Javi’s performance speaks volume and that what makes him one of the best foreigners currently playing in India.

In a roundtable media conference with select medias, caught up with the former Real Madrid B man and the 33-year old Spaniard gave his insights on Indian football, captain Sunil Chhetri, his Real Madrid Castilla days and the footballing world in general.

Javi graduated from the Real Madrid academy and spent three seasons with the Castilla side from 2008-2011. During that period, he featured in 34 games, scoring 3 goals and his teammates were Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso and Rodrigo.


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”Yeah there are many of them, who made it to the first team. I am very happy for their achievements and I also keep in touch with them”, he told.

Real Madrid are the undisputed kings of world football and it’s famed academy has produced some of the best in business. Javi was in all praise for Los Blanco‘s academy facilities, a place where he groomed himself in his early days.

”You have a lot of facilities at the academy of Real. They have very good coaches and everything you ask for in order to progress and grow in the best possible way”, the former Odisha FC man added.

Javi also shared that he did ice-bath sessions with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos of the first team players of Real Madrid during his Castilla days.

”Yes, I interacted with the first team players during our ice-bath sessions. Both the senior team and B team used to take ice-bath at the same place. They were close to us and were very good people”, he revealed.

When asked about India and BFC skipper Sunil Chhetri, Javi only had ‘good words’ to describe him. He has hailed him as the best Indian footballer ever and highlighted his hunger to excel even at the age of 38.

”About Sunil, everyone knows. He is the best Indian player ever and after playing with him last season, I realised he is one of those players, who is always hungry for more. He is very competitive during training and he wants to win no matter what. I can only say good words about him”, said Javi.

The former ATK Mohun Bagan man has been playing with the Indian players since 2019 and he strongly feels that the Indian footballers have shown considerable signs of improvement thanks to the ISL, and in the coming years he expects better players to come up the ranks.

”I feel the Indian players have improved very much since I came to India. Now, we are actually seeing some very good talents and youngsters coming up the ranks. Football here is growing and it is quite evident from the 8 years of the ISL. Hopefully we will see better Indian players in years to come”.

The 2022-23 season is Javi Hernandez’s best season when it comes to individual numbers. The midfielder scored 9 goals in 29 games and laid out 5 assists and is a fan favourite among the BFC faithful. Bengaluru FC played in the final of all the big 3 domestic tournaments, winning only the Durand Cup. The Spaniard is quite happy with his team’s performance and is even more impressed by the competitiveness of Indian football.


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”Well, I have played 4 years so far in the ISL and in the first few seasons, I couldn’t score or assist that much individually. I played in a more defensive role but in the last two seasons, talking about numbers I am very happy. In 2021-22 season, my statistics were good but couldn’t reach the playoffs (with Odisha FC). But this season, like you said we played three finals, don’t know whether it has happened before or not in India. It is very competitive here as all the teams are equal and we are quite happy with our team’s performance”, Javi assessed.

The Real Madrid fan also spoke in length about the current Los Blancos squad and their recent defeat in the UEFA Champions League semi-final on the hands of Manchester City.

”I was in the first match at the Bernabeu stadium. City were good in the first-half and in the following 45 minutes, when Real was playing good, City managed to get a goal. In the second leg, I was at home and it was very hard to watch. In the first-half, City literally tormented Madrid as they are currently the best in-form team in the world. Manchester deserve to go through but at the same time I am proud of this team as they won three UCLs in a row, which is also impossible to do so”, he explained.

He is very clear about his UCL final predictions and wants Inter Milan to lift the title as he just can’t stand Pep Guardiola. Even though he admitted that City will have a higher chance to win.

”I want Inter to win because I don’t like Guardiola as he was with Barca. But City will definitely have the higher chances to win”, he shared.

”We have good youngers players in the national team now and we need a few more years to adapt. Things are not like what was 12 years ago, when we had Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Ramos. I feel in the coming years, we will be much better”, the Bengaluru man also talked about the current status of the Spanish national football team.

Javi is an avid Lionel Messi fan despite of being among the Real Madrid faithful. When asked whether the Argentine is the GOAT of football or not, he had a straight-forward answer.

”Well, I didn’t watch Pele or Maradona play but as far as my football knowledge says, Messi is far by the best”, the Spaniard concluded.



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