Raul Jimenez exclusive interview: Wolves striker on Hugo Sanchez, Chicharito and Atletico Madrid

Alam Khan - Reporter 01:15 04/01/2020
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  • Wolves frontman Raul Jimenez

    Comparisons are always inevitable – and achievements difficult to match – when treading the same paths of your countryman as Raul Jimenez found out.

    Having shown great promise at Club America in his Mexican homeland, the striker landed a dream £9.5 million move to Atletico Madrid in 2014.

    It was the club where compatriot Hugo Sanchez began his own European footballing adventure 33 years earlier – one that would see him then join city rivals Real in 1985 and finish as one of the game’s greats.

    The stage was set for Jimenez to try to shine at Atletico too, only to struggle to fulfil his potential as, namely, Antoine Griezmann came to the fore in their frontline.

    After one league goal in 21 appearances, he left for Benfica to regain his confidence and form before a move to Wolves in 2018, eventually turning a loan into a permanent £33 million transfer, has seen Sanchez now claim it’s a matter of time before Jimenez makes the leap to one of Europe’s biggest clubs again.

    “It was difficult at Atletico Madrid,” Jimenez told Sport360 exclusively.

    “It was my first experience in Europe when I went there and La Liga was hard. But I learnt a lot there, a lot of things I am now making on the pitch. So everything counts.

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    “I have no regrets about going there because it was a very good experience. Now I want to keep learning, keep improving and keep doing what I have been doing for the team. At Wolves we are growing and I hope we can have a good season.

    “I never saw him (Sanchez) play, but he was a very good striker. As a Mexican, you always want to be a player like them.

    “Your family and the ones who saw him play, they all talk about him. But I am trying to write my own history and make it good, make it special.”

    Jimenez, 28, has certainly made a mark in English football during his two seasons with Wolves, scoring 34 goals, 17 in this campaign, and leading the club’s impressive growth since their promotion in 2018.

    So much so that he could surpass the impact made by another compatriot, Javier Hernandez. While ‘Chicharito’ won two league titles at Manchester United, scoring 59 goals in five seasons, he was largely viewed as a super sub.

    For Wolves, Jimenez is certainly the main man.

    As they host United in Saturday’s FA Cup third round, the frontman – who scored as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were dumped out in the sixth round last season en route to the semi finals – recalled: “I watched Manchester United, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, all those teams.

    “When you are in Mexico growing up you see their matches, the ones in the Champions League especially.

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    “I liked the style of the Premier League, the way they played here. It was always a dream to come and now it has come true with Wolves.

    “I enjoyed watching Thierry Henry, Michael Owen. Of course I also watched Chicharito and what he made at Manchester United was great.

    “He didn’t have the minutes maybe that he wanted, but he did well whenever he entered the pitch.

    “He did his best, gave 100 percent, and I think he did well in the time he was there. Of course I hope I can do better here.

    “I am ambitious. I am trying to write my own history, make my own moment, and am going to try to do better things, to do the things I know I can do and to keep growing.”