Hector has become a household name in his
native Spain and in the United Kingdom as he has established himself as an
internationally recognised footballer.
Starting with the Barcelona youth team as an attacking winger, he played for Spain at U16, U17, U19, U21 and full international level. In 2011 at age 16 he signed for Arsenal in the English Premier League.
He made his Arsenal debut in the early part of
the 2013-4 season and has played in the
Champions League (a European club competition) as well as helping
Arsenal towards winning the 2015 and 2017 FA Cup finals.
Hector first played for the Spanish national team in 2016, and has three caps.
He’s known for his pace, and has broken the
Arsenal record for 40 metre sprint.
At the time of writing (the close of the
2018-9 season) Hector is recovering from a cruciate ligament injury which kept
him out of the last part of the season.
He’s hoping to recover and return to the starting line up as soon as
possible in the new season.
Hector has been affected for most of his
career by inflammation of the ankles.
“I always had a little bit of problem with my ankles” he explains “when I had played very hard games they would get a bit inflammated and then they would be very sore. And now it’s like – I don’t even have to strap them to play any more.“
He’s also noticed increased enery levels,
particularly in the morning.
The changes came after Hector went vegan, at
the start of the 2017-18 season.
“At the beginning I wanted to try for a couple of weeks, kind of to detox my body and stuff. But I felt so great after it, I’ve been [vegan] for six months now.“
Eating healthily hasn’t been a problem, and Hector quickly identified that while there’s a concern over protein sources, they aren’t founded. “There’s so many things, like you have your legumes, you have your dried nuts – all this stuff that has so much protein, but we’re just not used to eating that often.“
“When I go out and there’s not a vegan meal on the menu, I know what to ask for, I know how to make it work for me.“
A rare vegan
Teammates seem to be curious, and as is
typical with a lot of team sports, there’s some teasing. Sometmes they sneak meat onto his plate,
which he takes in good humour.
Hector’s also suprised his family with his
eating decisions, as they typically eat a lot of meat – as is common among
traditional Spanish eating habits.
“My parents didn’t really understand it when I first told them that I was becoming a vegan“ he says. “But after spending a long time with them this summer, they have ditched a bit of meat from their own diets. Most people seem to feel better when they do it. And if it makes them feel better, I’m also happy.”
While Hector has benefited as an athlete with his recovery, he also recognises the ethics. “I strongly believe, what we do to the earth, we get it all back.“
“The sustainability of the environment and animal cruelty now motivate me just as much as health.
“The way I feel physically and mentally, knowing I’m doing the right things, makes me really happy to be a vegan.”
“If this is a way for people to actually see that you can be an athlete and you can do it and I can open doors of course I’ll do it to help them.”