Ranking Mexico's 10 Greatest Midfielders of All Time
Mexico have produced great footballers to take over the center of the pitch and command the national team in style down the years.
From Luis de la Fuente, who amazed in the 1934 World Cup qualifier, to Pavel Pardo, the first Mexican to score in the Bundesliga, this list includes central midfielders who have made an impact with both their clubs and El Tri.
Their talent, hunger and commitment have set them apart not only as the greatest in their position, but also as true leaders.
Let's take a look at them.
All advanced stats appear courtesy of FEMEXFUT, unless otherwise noted.
10. Rafael Garcia
Rafael Garcia had a gifted right foot, which he used masterfully in set pieces.
He caught media attention when he was 20 years old during his third season with Pumas, in which he scored eight times and appeared in 32 games.
He quickly became one of the finest footballers in the local league and Toluca bought him in 1998. It was with Los Diablos Rojos that he gained fame.
With Mexico he made two World Cup teams (2002 and 2006) and also played in the 1999 Confederations Cup, which El Tri won.
9. Luis de la Fuente
Luis de la Fuente was one of the first Mexican footballers to play abroad.
He put in a splendid performance at the 1934 World Cup qualifier, which landed him a contract with Racing de Santander. He played only one season in Spain as he had to return to Mexico due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
In 1939, he left the country once more to play for Uruguayan club Corrales, and the next year he joined Velez Sarsfield of Argentina.
His technique allowed him to use both feet either for passing or shooting, and his ball distribution was first class.
With El Tri, he played from 1934 to 1950 and scored seven times.
8. Cristobal Ortega
Cristobal Ortega played for only one club during his 18-year career: Club America. He was a tough and strong player, who kept the midfield tight and secure.
Ortega was a stalwart for Las Aguilas and helped the club secure six league titles, three Super Cups and three CONCACAF Champions League titles.
He debuted for El Tri against Peru in 1977 and played in both the 1978 and 1986 World Cups.
7. Miguel Espana
Miguel Espana was one of the most important players for Pumas in the '80s and early '90s. He won one title with the club in the 1990-91 season.
Espana was great at keeping and distributing the ball. Although he was never one of the most technical players in Mexican football, he always fought hard on the pitch.
He represented El Tri in the 1986 World Cup finals, which were held in Mexico. He wore the national team jersey from 1984 to 1994.
6. Javier Aguirre
Before coaching Mexico twice, Javier Aguirre made quite an impact playing for Club America.
He made his professional debut with Las Aguilas in 1979 before he left for the Los Angeles Aztecs the following year.
He spent one season abroad before returning to Mexico, where he won two league titles (one with Club America and one with Atlante) and displayed great attacking skills.
Aguirre once more left the country and arrived in Spain to play for Osasuna, but an injury put an end to his career in Europe.
He scored 13 goals for El Tri and played in the 1986 World Cup.
5. Manuel Negrete
The world met Manuel Negrete in 1986 after he scored one of the most beautiful goals in World Cup history.
But Negrete was already making an impact in the Mexican league before that playing for Pumas, where he appeared 215 times before leaving for Portugal.
His fine touch and dribbling skills were his most valuable assets, which allowed him to create plays that he sometimes finished himself.
With Mexico, he played in the 1986 World Cup and scored 12 times in 57 appearances.
4. Benjamin Galindo
Benjamin Galindo was part of one of the most brilliant generations of Mexican footballers.
He made his professional debut with Tampico Madero in 1979, but it wasn't until 1986 and his transfer to Chivas de Guadalajara that he started to make a difference.
Galindo had a mean long-distance shot and a superb ability to retain possession. He was a very intelligent footballer who knew when to pass the ball and to whom.
He wore Mexico's jersey 65 times, and he played one World Cup (USA 1994), two Copas America (1993 and 1995) and one Gold Cup (1991)—in the latter he was the top scorer with four goals.
3. Gerardo Torrado
Gerardo Torrado has been one of the most consistent players in Mexico's history. In 1999, he represented the country at the U-20 World Cup and immediately showed his endurance.
Torrado is a tireless player who not only organizes the team but also helps the defense in times of need.
He left for Europe after spending three years with Pumas, returning to Mexico five years later with Cruz Azul, where he has been playing ever since.
Torrado has played three World Cups (2002, 2006 and 2010), three Confederations Cups (1999, 2005 and 2013), three Gold Cups (2003, 2009 and 2011) and four Copas America (1999, 2001, 2004 and 2007), to name but a few.
2. Pavel Pardo
Pavel Pardo appeared 156 times with Atlas, the club where he debuted, before leaving for Tecos.
His performance with both teams (from 1993 to 1999) put him on Club America's radar, where he played seven years before getting his big break in Europe.
Pardo was one of the most technical and talented players of his time. He organized the team like few footballers have ever done and added dynamism when he joined the attack.
He played 148 games with Mexico for a total of 12,341 minutes. His performance in the 2005 Confederations Cup and the 2006 World Cup secured him a transfer to VfB Stuttgart, where he won one Bundesliga title.
Pardo also participated in the 1998 World Cup, as well as in the 1999 Confederations Cup. He played at several Copas America, Gold Cups and World Cup qualifiers.
1. Alberto Garcia Aspe
Alberto Garcia Aspe was one of the most prolific Mexican midfielders. He played 528 games in the local league and scored 149 goals.
He debuted with Pumas in 1984, spending seven years and winning one league title there before joining Necaxa.
Garcia Aspe helped Los Rayos secured back-to-back championships (1994-95 and 1995-96). His performance was key for the club as it regained its elite status.
He left Mexico briefly, to play for Argentinean club River Plate. However, he didn't get much playing time and returned to join Club America.
With the national team he was a driving force, and his leadership permeated the whole squad; he provided fantastic structure to the center of the pitch and changed the game's rhythm according to what was needed.
His fine touch and fierceness set him as the official penalty taker. He represented El Tri in three World Cups (1994, 1998 and 2002), two Confederations Cups and four Copas America, to name but a few.