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Soccer is the most popular sport in Mexico and it couldn’t be different for the nation which hosted two FIFA World Cups (in 1970 and 1986) and was the first ever nation to score in the World Cup history in 1930 in Uruguay.
Such a popularity brought us many high class players and here is a list of the best:
Oldies But Goldies
This list must start with the greatest Mexican player of all time – Hugo Sanchez. He is one of the best center-forwards and finishers in the history of football. The best years of his career were spent in Real Madrid, who claimed him as the Real Madrid’s all time best XI. When we speak of goals scored in Spanish 1st tier, Hugol was the record breaker and no player could parry him until the Ronaldo – Messi era.
Popularly called La Tota, Antonio Carbajal was the first player ever to attend five World Cups during the 1950-1966 period. He spent the most of his career at Mexican Club Leon. Carbajal was famous for goalkeeping barehanded, not wearing the gloves.
A former Mexican striker with a “killer instinct”, who was three times best goal scorer of the Mexican league, spent his whole career in two clubs – UNAM and Club America. He was not only an efficient player in the clubs he played for, but also in the national squad, for which he scored 35 goals.
The Best Mexican Soccer Players in the ‘90s and ‘00s
There are many unusual things about the most capped goalkeeper of the Mexican national team. Campos was well-known for his throws over the center of the pitch and an unusual height (172cm) for a goalkeeper, but his biggest legacy was scoring 35 goals in his career. At the club level he used to start games as a goalie, but would later on, during the match, replace one of the strikers. Campos was also famous for self-designed colorful jerseys he wore.
This great striker was the best scorer in the 1999 Confederations Cup, scoring the winning goal against Brazil in the final. This was the only FIFA trophy ever won by Mexico. He spent the most of his career at Club America, but also played for Chicago Fire in the MLS. Currently, he is a very popular politician and the Governor of the Mexican state of Morelos.
Rafa was the first Mexican player ever who played for Barcelona and the first Mexican who won the Champions League. An uncompromising defender, with great passing skills and outstanding anticipation, is still on the third place counting capps for the national team and one of four players in soccer history attending five consecutive World Cups. Few days ago, he became Barcelona B coach.
Spending the most of his career in Mexico, Borgetti became a legend and the best goal scorer in Santos Laguna with 205 goals. Speaking of his career abroad, he had some unsuccessful episodes in Europe and the Middle East. The nickname El Zorro del Desierto (“The Desert Fox”) comes from his hometown and his first club Atlas. A great sense for space and unique aerial ability made him one of the best heading strikers ever and the second best goal scorer for the Mexican national team with 46 goals.
El Emperador (“The Emperor”) is a player with the most appearances (177) for the Mexican national squad and one of the top capped players ever on national level. He played for three clubs in Mexico and one in the USA during his professional career, being a fearless center back with great commanding skills.
One of the most talented strikers Mexico has ever had was famous for his long blonde hair and for the nickname El Matador. He was a nightmare for opposing goalkeepers, but his life off the pitch, full of unsporting things, cost him a better career. He changed 12 clubs during his career, mostly in MX League, but also in MLS.
A fearless defensive midfielder had a great ability to read the game which often gave him advantage to opponent midfielders. He had some episodes in Spain, but he spent the most of his career in Mexican Cruz Azul. Torrado made 146 appearances for the national squad, attending three World Cups. Earlier this month, Torrado was sacked from the sporting director position in the Mexican Football Federation due to bad results.
The Best Still Active Mexican Soccer Players
Commonly known for his nickname Chicharito (“little pea”), Hernandez is Mexico’s all time top scorer with 52 goals. The best period of his career (2010-2015) was spent in Manchester United where he impressed with 20 goals in his debut season. Injuries and lack of work ethics led to his loan to Real Madrid where he spent another successful season. However, a real comeback came after he signed for Bayer Leverkusen, where he scored 39 goals in two seasons and became the most capped Mexican player in the Champions League. Currently, he Chicharito plays in MLS for LA Galaxy. Interestingly, a few months ago he signed for the Complexity Gaming team to play Call of Duty.
Just after Claudio Suarez, Guardado is the second most capped Mexican player with 175 appearances. He represented his country in four World Cups, four Gold Cups, two Confederations Cups and two Copa Americas. After just one season in Mexican Atlas, he moved to Deportivo La Coruna. After being loaned to Bayer Leverkusen and having a successful season in PSV, Guardado signed for Real Betis, where he was an important first team member in the previous 5 seasons.
It is still unbelievable that Ochoa didn’t manage to make a great career in Europe. He played for French Ajjacio, Spanish Malaga and Belgian Standard Liege and in every club he has won at least one The Player of the Season award. There were rumors he was close to signing for Manchester United and Liverpool, but no move has been made. Ochoa decided to return to Club America, where he still plays as team’s captain and the highest paid domestic player in MX League.
This list shows that Mexican soccer players are very talented. They entered four finals and won two U17 World Cups in the previous 15 years, together with the Olympic gold medal in 2012, so it’s just a matter of time when we will meet some new superstars.