City winger flying high after special goal for Cuba

Onel Hernandez of Norwich City celebrates after scoring the second goal against Preston North End du

Onel Hernandez scored for Cuba, his first goal since Norwich City won at Preston in the FA Cup in January 2020 - Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd

Delayed flights, volcanic ash clouds and pandemic precautions to travel to the other side of the globe all proved worth it in the end for Onel Hernandez - after scoring a goal for Cuba which meant so much.

It may have arrived during a 2-1 defeat to Caribbean rivals Curacao but as the Norwich City winger dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky, his moment of vindication had arrived.

The 28-year-old moved to Germany as a child but in recent years had been battling against a ruling preventing footballers from representing their homeland unless they play their club football in Cuba.

Having come agonisingly close to making his debut in November 2018 only to have the chance taken away from him by bureaucrats, Hernandez managed to get a flight from Mexico and rush to the stadium in time to come on during a 1-0 defeat in Guatemala on Thursday.

The second game was also played in the Central American country on Sunday and although it was a defeat to Curacao, when the Canaries winger cut on to his left foot and drove a 20-yard shot into the far top corner to equalise in the 28th minute, it meant a great deal.

"Thank God for my first goal for my country, we have to keep going," Hernandez posted on his Instagram account with photos of his goal celebrations.

"Thanks to all my team-mates, who have potential and are very talented, and thanks to our coach and everyone who worked to make this possible.

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"The goal was for my uncle Maikel."

Hernandez dedicated the special moment to his late uncle and was also able to savour the feeling of a first goal since scoring during a 4-2 win at Preston in the FA Cup third round last season.

Onel Hernandez of Norwich City celebrates with Christoph Zimmermann after scoring the second goal ag

Christoph Zimmermann congratulates Onel Hernandez after scoring at Preston in the FA Cup last season - Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd

As he returns to England ahead of a trip to Preston on Friday, the skilful wide man will be hoping Deepdale will prove a happy hunting ground for him again, as he pursues his second Championship promotion with City.

World Cup qualification continues for Norwich players on Tuesday evening, with Tim Krul looking to follow on from Saturday's 2-0 home win over Latvia with Holland away to minnows Gibraltar in Group G, hoping to earn his 14th cap.

Orjan Nyland could be on the bench for Norway in Montenegro and on-loan forward Danel Sinani will be hoping to face Portugal as Luxembourg return home after a famous 1-0 win in Ireland on Saturday, with Sinani playing all of that win in Dublin as he earned his 31st cap.

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