'Because of all these things' - Leeds United playmaker Pablo Hernandez eyes greatest feat of glittering career

FOUR caps with Spain, goals against Barcelona, seasons in La Liga and the Premier League, Champions League football and a Swansea City League Cup triumph.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 11:48 am

Pablo Hernandez has already savoured many highs during his glittering career.

Yet promotion to the Premier League with Leeds United would top the lot with the Spaniard knowing he would be left with an “amazing feeling” if helping end the club’s 16-year exile from the country’s top flight.

Hernandez was just 19 when United were relegated from the Premier League in May 2004 with the Spaniard working his way up the ranks at Valencia.

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PASSION: For Leeds United from the club's Spanish playmaker star Pablo Hernandez. Picture by Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.

After moving to Getafe for the 2007-08 campaign, Hernandez’s season ended with a Copa Del Rey runner-us up medal and it proved only the start of more success to come.

Hernandez then moved back to Valencia the following season and four fine campaigns at the Mestalla in La Liga followed including goals against Barcelona and Champions League football.

Four caps for Spain arrived along the way before the switch to the Premier League via a move to Swansea with the attacking midfielder enjoying jubilation at Wembley as the Swans lifted the 2013 League Cup.

Yet three months after his 35th birthday, Hernandez says taking the Whites to the Premier League would top the lot with the playmaker now approaching the end of his fourth season at United but fully aware of the continued battle to bring back top-flight football in the decade that preceded his arrival.

“I think maybe it would be the most important achievement in my career if I go to the Premier League with Leeds United,” Hernandez told the YEP.

“I think all around this club, the atmosphere at Elland Road, the fans, the history of the club, all of these things, the last 15/16 years of this team in League One or the Championship, because of all these things, for me it means a lot.

“I can lead this club to an amazing feeling because I think when we achieve this I will feel this.

“But now we are just thinking about the next game because you can never think all the work is finished until the end of the season and until we take the necessary points and now we just need to be focused on the next game.”

Thanks to Hernandez, United are approaching that next game with a three-point lead at the top of the Championship and with a six-point cushion in the division’s automatic promotion spots with just three games left.

Leeds looked set to see that cushion reduced to four points heading towards the latter stages of Sunday’s clash at Swansea City but Hernandez ensured a point was turned to three with his cool finish from a flowing Whites counter started by a lung-busting run from Luke Ayling in the 89th minute.

The celebrations said it all with Hernandez whipping off his shirt and racing away to celebrate before being mobbed by his team mates including keeper Illan Meslier who raced the entire length of the pitch to join in the fun.

“Afterwards for five seconds I couldn’t breathe because of the running and the situation and all of the players hugged me,” said Hernandez.

“But it was an unbelievable feeling and I celebrated a lot because I knew it was a very, very important goal because the three points gives us a good chance for the next two games to achieve the target.

“I was very happy, not just for me but for my team mates, for the staff, for everybody at the club and for the fans.

“Everyone deserves this.”

Leeds could now even be promoted on Thursday evening with third-placed Brentford forced to beat Preston North End at Griffin Park tomorrow to prevent United heading into Thursday’s Elland Road clash against Barnsley knowing a win would take them up.

Assessing just how close promotion felt after the Swansea victory, Hernandez said: “It’s a very good feeling because we knew if we didn’t win the gap gets closer to just three or four points. We knew it was a massive win for us.

“After this the confidence is higher, we have a lot of confidence because we know what we need to do on the pitch every game and this is more important. We win games in our style, with our football and our identity and I think this is good for us. We need to finish the work in the next three games.”