Norwich’s Onel Hernández: ‘It’s sad. Cuban players want to play for free’

The midfielder discusses his dream of reaching the Premier League and one day being able to represent Cuba as well

Onel Hernández cannot remember touching a football during the first six years of his life. He and his friends in Morón, a city in central Cuba, would steal fruit from trees and play with marbles in the street but he was rarely happier than when he looked up at the sky. The birds transfixed him to the extent that he pleaded for a miniature aviary of his own. “My uncle brought 10 of them home for me,” he says. “We kept them in the garden, we’d let them out and in the evening they’d come back. In Cuba people don’t have a lot but they’re content with what they have, and this was my youth.”

These days the country has its own native Canary. Hernández has become an outstanding member of Daniel Farke’s Norwich City side, who sit four points clear of the Championship and appear bound for a promotion few had foreseen in August. His dynamic, insistent displays from the wing have been a big factor and, should they make it, he will become the Premier League’s first Cuba-born player.

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