5 Greatest Mexico Central Defenders of All Time
Mexico has produced a great crop of central defenders throughout its history. Some of those players have stayed in the country to play in the local league, while others have left, looking to gain world recognition.
Their performance with the national team has been key in friendlies and international competitions like the Gold Cup, Copa America, Confederations Cup and World Cup.
From Rafael Marquez, one of the most successful Mexican footballers in history, to Fernando Quirarte, a stalwart of El Tri of the '70s, let's find out who are these prolific centre-backs.
All data provided by Femexfut unless otherwise noted.
5. Javier Guzman
Javier Guzman was 25 years old when he received his first call-up for El Tri, which was the result of his ferocious defending with Cruz Azul and Pumas.
Widely known as Kaliman, he was a tireless footballer, who fought every single ball even when it seemed it had already crossed the goal line, as it happened against the Soviet Union in a friendly held in 1970.
Guzman played 38 games with Mexico, all of them as an undisputed starter, for a total of 3,375 minutes on the pitch.
4. Alfredo Tena
Alfredo Tena became one of the most recognizable and loyal players of Club America in the '70s. He won six league titles with Las Aguilas.
Capitan Furia was not only a fantastic leader in the back line; he was also deadly when he joined the attack. He had a stellar aerial game and a powerful right-foot shot.
His talent took him to El Tri, where he appeared 30 times, including the 1978 World Cup and several qualifiers for the biggest football fiesta.
After his retirement, he managed Mexican clubs Puebla, Santos, Club America, Queretaro and Veracruz.
3. Fernando Quirarte
Fernando Quirarte played 14 years with Chivas de Guadalajara, the team he made his professional debut with in 1973.
The Sheriff won the league title in the 1986-1987 season and was a key player for Chivas until he left for Universidad de Guadalajara in 1989, where he retired the following year.
Quirarte debuted with the national team in 1981, during the qualifying tournament for the 1982 World Cup, however Mexico missed the event.
Four years later he finally debuted in the World Cup with Mexico in 1986, where he also scored twice, against Belgium and Iraq.
He was a quick and strong defender whose physical attributes were an advantage to charge the rivals to steal the ball.
2. Claudio Suarez
Claudio Suarez was part of one of the brightest generations of Mexican footballers. He played from the early '90s to the mid-2000s along Luis Garcia, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Luis Hernandez and Jared Borgetti to name a few.
El Emperador has the second-most appearances with a national team with 180, four shy of Egyptian Ahmed Hassan.
Suarez's career with El Tri included playing for eight different coaches. In his 15-year span wearing Mexico's jersey, he played three World Cups (1994, 1998 and 2006) and won one Confederations Cup (1999) and three Gold Cups (1993, 1996, 1998).
He was one of the most committed players on the team. His hard work paid off on a regular basis, while his experienced helped the team settle down in stressful situations, which earned him the captain's armband.
Suarez retired in 2009 with Chivas USA. In his 22-year career, he also played for Mexican clubs Pumas Chivas and Tigres.
1. Rafael Marquez
Rafael Marquez has won more titles than any other Mexican footballer in history, with a total of 22.
He started his career with Atlas de Guadalajara when he was 17 years old. After three seasons he was transferred to Monaco, where he polished his skills for four years.
After that period he left for Spain to join La Liga heavyweights Barcelona. Marquez quickly established himself as one of the most dependable centre-backs.
His ball possession and distribution secured him the starting position with the Blaugrana, where he appeared 240 times and scored 12 goals.
In 2010, he joined the New York Red Bulls. Three years later, he returned to Mexico to play for Leon, where he has already won two league titles.
Marquez has been playing for El Tri since 1997. His fine touch and superb aerial game have set him as a standard bearer of the team.
He has appeared in three World Cups (2002, 2006 and 2010) and has received recognitions such as the 2005 CONCACAF's Best Player and 2001 Ligue 1 Best Defender.