All Raul Jimenez wants to do is watch a film. “Whenever we go to the cinema in Mexico, we have to get taken in two minutes before the film starts,” he says, shaking his head in bewilderment. “We sit in a little room and wait for everyone else to sit down, or it becomes very difficult. Then, afterwards, there are people outside waiting for me…”
Not that Jimenez is complaining – this is simply the reality of his life back in his home town of Tepeji, 47 miles from Mexico City. Jimenez might be a local hero at Wolverhampton Wanderers, where his goals have played a vital role in establishing the club as a Premier League force, but in Mexico, the man is a national superstar .
The numbers tell the story. Jimenez’s Twitter following now numbers 3.3million – almost seven times that of the main Wolves account. Only two other Premier League players – Sergio Agüero and Mesut Özil – can lay claim to being more popular than their clubs on social media.
It helps that Jiménez is now the only Mexican operating in the Premier League, after Javier Hernandez’s departure from West Ham, and his popularity continues to have jaws dropping at Molineux.
Since he signed on loan from Benfica last June, and then completed a club record £32 million move in the summer, Wolves have amassed 450,000 Facebook followers in Mexico and an increase of 271 per cent in website traffic. Meanwhile, 65 per cent of their YouTube audience live in the United States and Mexico, with 13million minutes of the club’s channel viewed south of the border.
“I love that support – it means so much to me,” Jimenez says, as we chat in a dressing room at Wolves’ training ground. “Even when the Wolves matches are on at 7am, they are watching them.
“I get messages all the time on Twitter and Instagram from people back home telling me that they have bought a Wolves shirt. It’s amazing that it can happen.
“Some people are either going to love you or hate you but, yes, I think there are more people who love me! I am doing this for me and my family, and all the people who support me.”
While Jiménez is massive in Mexico, he is also big in the Black Country. The 28-year-old has proven a huge success since his arrival, spearheading Nuno Espirito Santo’s forward line and possessing all the qualities required to succeed in English football.
The Yucatan Times Newsroom with information from ESPN