Ranking the Best 20 Mexican Players of All Time

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2012

Ranking the Best 20 Mexican Players of All Time

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    Mexico has had some great footballers throughout the years. Some of them have made it to European clubs, others have played in the local league.

    Success, ability and lots of fans are some of the things they have in common, despite their role in the pitch.

    From goalkeepers to strikers here's a list of some of the finest footballers that Mexico has had in its history.

Honorable Mention

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    These footballers have been key in Mexican football, thus they deserve special mention.

    Guillermo Sepúlveda: El Tigre was one of the toughest center-backs in the league. He was strong and played two World Cups with El Tri.

    Javier Hernández: Chicharito has been one of the top players in the past couple of years. The striker, who plays for Manchester United, has proven to be on the right track to becoming one of the greatest.

    Juan Francisco Palencia: El Gatillero retired from football in 2011 after 22 years of success with Cruz Azul, Espanyol, Chivas, Chivas USA and UNAM.

    Luis Roberto Alves: Zague got the job done, he wasn't the most technical player, but managed to score 167 times in 436 appearances with América.

    Pavel Pardo: After a long period without Mexicans abroad, El Bebé was one of the first footballers that succeeded in Europe. He was the first Mexican to score in the Bundesliga.

    Ricardo Peláez: He was tough, fast and had a superb header. Peláez scored twice in the 1998 World Cup against South Korea and the Netherlands.

20. Ramón Ramírez

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    Ramón Ramírez was an explosive attacking midfielder that showed his true potential with Chivas de Guadalajara, where he scored 26 times.

    Ramírez was very fast and had a refined touch with the left foot. It was precisely from the left band that he created most of the plays; sometimes he finished them himself and in others he distributed the ball to the strikers.

    Between 1991 and 2000 he received 121 caps with El Tri, becoming one of 10 players that have appeared the most with the national team.

19. Manuel Negrete

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    Manuel Negrete has been internationally acclaimed thanks to his spectacular scissor kick goal against Bulgaria in the 1986 World Cup.

    In Mexico, Negrete played for UNAM, Monterrey, Atlante, Toros Neza and CF Acapulco. With UNAM he had his best moments, including 370 appearances and 103 goals.

    He signed with Sporting Clube de Portugal in 1986 and a year later he moved to Sporting de Gijón.

18. Benjamín Galindo

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    Benjamín Galindo was a smart midfielder. He had superb ball control and pass accuracy, combined with making good choices.

    The long distance shots were Galindo's specialty. He had a powerful right-foot shot.

    Galindo played in Tampico Madero, Guadalajara, Santos Laguna, Cruz Azul and Pachuca. He was a regular with El Tri, where he played from 1983 to 1997.

17. Oswaldo Sánchez

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    The Santos Laguna goalkeeper—dubbed San Oswaldo because of his stunning saves—is one of Mexico's most iconic footballers.

    Oswaldo Sánchez was named best goalkeeper of the 2005 Confederations Cup and the third best goalkeeper of the 2006 World Cup.

    Sánchez is 38 years old and has appeared in tournaments like FIFA World Cup qualifier (1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010), Copa América (2004 and 2007), Confederations Cup (2001 and 2005), Gold Cup (2003 and 2007) and World Cup (2006).

16. Carlos Salcido

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    From Ocotlán, Jalisco, Carlos Salcido is a tough left-back who has recently taken a more offensive role, due to his speed and strength.

    He showed his potential at the 2005 Confederations Cup and at the 2006 World Cup. His performance in both tournaments was enough for PSV Eindhoven to sign him.

    He has played with El Tri since 2004, which equals to 103 caps. 

15. Alberto García Aspe

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    He has been one of the finest midfielders in Mexico's history. His leadership was one of his biggest assets. Alberto García Aspe played for UNAM, Necaxa, River Plate, América and Puebla.

    Beto was El Tri's captain and he organized the team in ways that few players have done. Despite being a midfielder, García Aspe had a powerful left-foot shot and scored 21 times with the national team.

    Two of those goals came at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, both times in penalty kicks.

14. Enrique Borja

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    One of Mexico's top scorers is Enrique Borja. The striker scored 255 goals with El Tri, UNAM and Club América from 1964 to 1977.

    Borja is remembered for his unusual goals. He took every chance he could and managed to score with the strangest parts of the body, like his hip, abdomen and back.

    In 1966 he scored Mexico's sole goal in the World Cup, against France. 

13. Claudio Suárez

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    No one has played more times with the Mexico national team than Claudio Suárez. El Emperador was capped 178 times and captained the squad for many years.

    Suárez is one of the toughest center-backs the country has seen. His physical attributes set him as a strong, fast and skillful footballer.

    Claudio lifted three Gold Cups and a Confederations Cup. He scored six goals with El Tri and 53 with the clubs he played for.

12. Jared Borgetti

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    He is Mexico national team all-time scorer, with 46 goals. Jared Borgetti played for Atlas, Santos Laguna, Dorados, Pachuca, Bolton Wanderers, Al-Ittihad, Cruz Azul, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puebla, Morelia and León.

    During his club career he scored 252 goals and was the first Mexican to play in the English Premier League.

    Borgetti was a clever striker and especially accurate when it came to headers.

11. Luis García

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    He debuted when he was 17 years old with UNAM, the club where he scored more than in any other, with a total of 69 goals.

    He was a natural-born striker that went to Spain in 1992 to play for Atlético Madrid. Luis was the most successful Mexican footballer in Spain since Hugo Sánchez left the country.

    García set the scoring record for a Mexican in his debut season; he had 20 goals in 1992/1993.

    Between 1991 and 1999, Luis García appeared in 79 games wearing El Tri's jersey and scored 29 times.

10. Carlos Hermosillo

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    Carlos Hermosillo is the Mexican footballer that has scored more goals in the local tournament and the second all-time.

    With América, Monterrey, Cruz Azul, Necaxa, Atlante and Guadalajara he scored 279 times, 153 of those with Cruz Azul.

    It was in that team where he spent his best years, which resulted in 90 caps for the national team and 35 goals—he is the third best scorer of El Tri.

9. Luis Hernández

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    He shares the third place in the all-time Mexico topscorers’ table with Carlos Hermosillo. Luis Hernández played for Cruz Azul in his debut season (1991/1992); however, it was in 1995 when he proved his true capacity.

    El Matador was called to the first team and played his first World Cup in 1998. In the tournament, he had four goals, becoming Mexico's best scorer in World Cups and the first to score more than twice in the same edition.

    Hernández was incredibly fast and strong, thus challenging the defenders and stealing the ball from them repeatedly.

8. Salvador Reyes

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    Chava Reyes is the top scorer of Chivas de Guadalajara with 122 goals. He won seven championships with the club and was part of the squad known as Campeonísimo.

    Reyes also wore Mexico national team jersey and played in three World Cups: 1958, 1962 and 1966. He scored 14 times with El Tri, including the qualifying goal for the 1962 tournament.

7. Luis De La Fuente

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    Luis de la Fuente—dubbed Pirata because his father owned ships in which he used to spend his days as a child—was one of the first Mexican footballers to play abroad.

    After a superb performance at the 1934 World Cup qualifier, de la Fuente signed with Racing de Santander; he played one season before returning to Mexico.

    However, El Pirata would leave the country again. In 1939 he left to Uruguay and played for Corrales, then he traveled to Argentina and joined Vélez Sársfield.

    With El Tri, he played from 1934 to 1950, but never made it to a World Cup.

6. Antonio Carbajal

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    La Tota was the first player to appear in five World Cups (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966). Antonio Carbajal was placed 15th in the list of the best Goalkeepers of the Century, according to the IFFHS.

    Antonio played the match against Wales in Sweden 1958; after a draw, Mexico secured its first point in a World Cup. 

    He only played for two clubs in his career: Real Club España (1948-1950), which he left because the squad was dissolved, and León (1950-1966).

    Carbajal is the only Mexican player that has received the FIFA Order of Merit.

5. Horacio Casarín

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    Horacio Casarín debuted as a defender, but he was eventually moved to the attacking zone. He was 17 years old when he came off of his first game with Necaxa.

    In 1938 he was part of the national team that secured the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Panama.

    Casarín was going through his best moment when a serious injury sidelined him; Necaxa fans were so angry that they burnt the Asturias' stadium.

    Horacio didn't recover until two years later and went back to professional football with Atlante. After seven seasons with that club he left to Barcelona, but couldn't shine as he did in Mexico and returned quickly.

    He played the 1950 FIFA World Cup and he retired as the all-time Mexican scorer, with 256 goals to his count.

4. Cuauhtémoc Blanco

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    Cuauhtémoc Blanco is one of the most controversial footballers that the country has had, but certainly one of the best. He is the second all-time scorer of El Tri, with 39 goals.

    He debuted in 1992 with Club América and spent there 12 seasons, although not consecutively. He played with Necaxa, Real Valladolid and Veracruz in between.

    Later, he left to the United States and joined Chicago Fire for three seasons. He currently plays for Dorados de Sinaloa of the Ascenso MX (promotion league).

    Cuauhtémoc became a key player for El Tri in 1999 at the Confederations Cup, where he scored six times and received the Silver Ball and Silver Boot.

    He shares the record as the highest scorer of the tournament with Ronaldinho (nine goals in two editions).

    From 1995 to 2010, Blanco appeared in 121 games with Mexico national team and played in three World Cups, scoring three times.

3. Jorge Campos

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    It was impossible to miss Jorge Campos on the pitch. His flamboyant kits and his charisma were his special signature.

    Campos debuted as a striker, he scored 14 times in his first season with UNAM, later he earned the goalkeeper position. He stayed with Pumas for seven seasons and then moved to Atlante.

    He also played for Los Angeles Galaxy, Cruz Azul, Chicago Fire, Tigres UANL and Puebla.

    With the national team, El Brody appeared in three World Cups, two Confederation Cups, two Gold Cups and three Copas América.

2. Rafael Márquez

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    The first Mexican to win the UEFA Champions League is considered by many the best defender in the country's football history.

    Rafael Márquez played three years with Atlas before leaving to Europe. French club Monaco bought him, when he was just 20 years old. During his time at Ligue 1, Márquez brought the best out of himself and settled as a courageous defender.

    After four seasons, Barcelona paid five million euros to sign the first Mexican in its history. Rafa won 12 titles in seven seasons with the Blaugrana before leaving the club to play for New York Red Bulls.

    Márquez' leadership and endurance are two of his best assets. His ball touch is accurate and delicate, but he also knows how to score, as he has a super header.

    With Mexico national team, Rafael has played 13 straight years and has won the 1999 Confederations Cup and the 2003 and 2011 Gold Cup and has played in three World Cups.

1. Hugo Sánchez

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    No other Mexican footballer has scored as many goals in Europe as Hugo Sánchez. After a few seasons in the local league and a year with the San Diego Sockers, Hugo joined Atlético Madrid.

    He played four seasons with the Red and Whites before moving to Real Madrid, where he spent seven years playing with some of the finest footballers.

    Sánchez won the Pichichi award five times, four of them with Real Madrid, and helped the Merengues secure five La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and three Supercopas de España.

    Hugo was recognized by the IFFHS as CONCACAF's best Player of the Century and named in Real Madrid’s all-time greatest XI.

    He also represented Mexico in three World Cups (1978, 1986 and 1994); however, he only scored 29 goals, thus he sits seventh in the all-time scorers list.

    Sánchez was fast, strong and knew where he needed to be in the exact moment. His accuracy and fierceness were key to his success.

    He held the Real Madrid record for most goals scored in one season (38) for 21 years, including his famous bicycle kick; Cristiano Ronaldo broke it in 2011 (40).

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