20 Greatest Mexico Footballers of All Time

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

20 Greatest Mexico Footballers of All Time

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    Mexico have had a great crop of footballers throughout history. Many of them have represented El Tri in World Cups; others have found glory in the local league.

    From goalkeepers to strikers, being a national hero in a country that loves football like few do is not easy.

    These 20 stars have managed to earn a prominent place in the annals of history. Join us to find out who they are.

Honorable Mentions

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    Ramon Ramirez was a stalwart of El Tri in the 90s. He was a notable winger and playmaker in the local league, while with the national team he played as a left-back.

    Juan Francisco Palencia represented several clubs throughout his career due to his ability to finish plays, especially when coming from behind. Palencia wore El Tri’s jersey 80 times.

    Ricardo Pelaez was a first-class headerer. He was a threat in set pieces, as he took advantage of his speed to leave the defenders behind. Pelaez scored 16 goals with the national team.

    Pavel Pardo left for Europe after a superb performance in the 2005 Confederations Cup. Owner of an enviable long-distance shot, Pardo has been one of the most successful Mexican midfielders thanks to his fine touch and endurance.

    Benjamin Galindo controlled the midfield like few could. Dubbed El Maestro (The Master), he played 65 times with El Tri and scored 28 goals, mainly in set pieces. Galindo had the ability of striking the ball with both feet.

20. Manuel Negrete

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    Manuel Negrete won international fame during the 1986 World Cup. He scored a superb scissors-kick goal against Bulgaria in the round of 16.

    That same year, he left for Portugal, becoming one of the first Mexicans who have played abroad.

    He was a splendid midfielder with strong ball-control abilities.

19. Alberto Garcia Aspe

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    El Capitan (The Captain) was an outstanding leader and part of one of Mexico’s elite generations.

    Alberto Garcia Aspe was great with ball possession and distribution, which set him as El Tris playmaker in the 90s.

    He was loaned briefly to River Plate but went back to Mexico after playing five times with the Argentina heavyweights.

    He scored 170 goals in his professional career.

18. Javier Hernandez

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    No other active player has scored as many times for Mexico as Chicharito. The 25-year-old striker has 35 goals to his count with the national team.

    Javier Hernandez is also the most successful Mexican in the Premier League, as he has sent the ball away 34 times with Manchester United.

    Often called a goal poacher, Hernandez shows his intelligence and speed when he plays inside the box, which is his specialty.

17. Oswaldo Sanchez

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    When Oswaldo Sanchez was at his peak, in 2005, he was one of the most acclaimed goalkeepers in the world.

    In that year’s Confederations Cup, he was voted Best Goalkeeper after a superb string of saves, mainly in the third-place match against Germany.

    Sanchez was Mexico’s starting keeper in the 2006 World Cup.

    His most valuable assets are the aerial game and his quick reflexes.

16. Enrique Borja

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    Enrique Borja is one of the most iconic footballers of the country. His career with Club America set him as one of the players to follow in the 70s.

    He was very intelligent and played inside the box like few could. He scored with any part of his body and always showed courage.

    Borja scored 31 times in 65 appearances with El Tri, while in his club career he grabbed 255 goals.

15. Luis Roberto Alves

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    Zague’s style was far from beautiful, but he sealed the deal. Luis Roberto Alves was one of the deadliest strikers in the local league.

    In his 12 seasons with Club America, Zague scored 167 of his 209 goals in the Mexican tournament.

    The Brazil-born striker could finish a play with a header or a close-range shot.

    He holds the record as the top scorer in a single edition of the Gold Cup, with 11 in 1993. With Mexico, he scored 30 times.

14. Luis Garcia

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    A passionate and temperamental footballer, Luis Garcia was Mexico’s hit man in the mid-1990s.

    His speed and mobility from the midfield to the box were unique and flawless. He could dribble with ease and had a superb long-distance shot.

    He has been one the most successful Mexicans in Spain’s La Liga, with 28 goals in 68 appearances.

13. Carlos Hermosillo

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    Carlos Hermosillo became a sensation in the local league in the 90s when he played for Cruz Azul.

    In eight years with the club, he scored 168 goals and claimed the league top-scorer award in three successive seasons.

    He was elusive and fast, which helped him leave the defenders behind, but also tall enough (6’2’’) to surprise the goalkeepers.

    His total goal tally with clubs is 301.

12. Carlos Salcido

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    Carlos Salcido was part of the Mexican team that marvelled the world in 2005.

    He spent his first professional years with Chivas de Guadalajara before leaving for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.

    The left-back showed how valuable he could be when he ran through the left flank and sent crosses to the box.

    He has played two World Cups, Germany and South Africa, as well as two Confederations Cups.

11. Luis de la Fuente

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    Luis de la Fuente signed a contract with Racing de Santander in 1934 but had to return to Mexico a year later due to the Spanish Civil War.

    It wouldnt be de la Fuente's last adventure abroad. In 1939, he played for Paraguayan club Corrales, and the following year, he joined Velez Sarsfield, from Argentina.

    He was a classy midfielder who could play behind the striker, feeding him with balls or scoring himself. He had a superb long-distance shot and could kick the ball with both feet.

10. Claudio Suarez

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    El Emperador (The Emperor) played 178 games with Mexico and scored six times.

    Claudio Suarez was a great centre-back; his skills include strength, ball control and accuracy. He was a fantastic leader and kept his teammates focused and calmed in tough times.

    In the local league he played for UNAM, Chivas and Tigres. In 2006, he left the country and joined Chivas USA.

9. Salvador Reyes

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    He is Chivas de Guadalajara’s all-time scorer; in 14 years, he bagged 122 goals.

    Salvador Reyes was a key player with El Tri. He helped the national team to secure a spot in the 1958, 1962 and 1966 World Cups after he scored in every qualification tournament.

    Chava had an educated long-distance shot, mainly with his right foot. He mixed his fitness and his intelligence to leave behind the rivals.

8. Antonio Carbajal

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    La Tota was the first footballer who played in five World Cups. He did it in Brazil 1950, Switzerland 1954, Sweden 1958, Chile 1962 and England 1966.

    Antonio Carbajal spent most of his professional career with Leon, where he appeared 364 times.

    Perhaps one of Carbajals most quirky habits was that he didnt use gloves.

    His superb reflexes and his aerial game helped Mexico secure their first point in a World Cup (Sweden 1958).

    In 1992, he received FIFAs Order of Merit.

7. Luis Hernandez

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    El Matador has scored more goals in a single edition of a World Cup than any other Mexican. He bagged four to his count in France 1998.

    From 1995 to 2002, he gave Mexico 35 goals in 85 appearances. Luis Hernandez was a witty striker who took advantage of every space he found.

    He was lethal whenever he received a cross from the sidelines. His goalscoring knack was superb, and it helped him become the top scorer of the 1997 Copa America.

    Hernandez’s club career was long. He represented 11 clubs in a 15-year span.

6. Jared Borgetti

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    Jared Borgetti’s aerial game has been one of the best that a Mexican footballer has had.

    He had a unique sense of space, which allowed him to create a fantastic relation between the ball and the goal, giving him more options to score.

    His career with Santos Laguna was prolific. He scored 189 goals in 295 games, which set him as the club’s all-time scorer.

    Although he debuted in 1994, it wasn’t until 2005 when he got international acclaim due to his performances with El Tri in that year’s Confederations Cup.

    Borgetti played in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

5. Horacio Casarin

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    Horacio Casarin wasn’t always a striker; actually, he started his career as a defender. His mobility, speed and gifted legs were the reason why he was moved to the attacking zone.

    In 1939, he suffered an injury in a game between Necaxa and Asturias that sidelined him for two years. When he recovered, he left for Barcelona. Two seasons later, he returned to Mexico to represent Real Club Espana.

    With El Tri, Casarin won the gold medal in the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games and played in the 1950 World Cup.

    He retired in 1957 as the all-time Mexican scorer, with a total tally of 256 goals.

4. Jorge Campos

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    Jorge Campos had some impressive throws and saves throughout his career, despite his height (58”).

    A standard-bearer for El Tri in the 90s, Campos wore the green jersey in 130 games, including eight World Cup games (USA 1994 and France 1998).

    He had some of his best performances on home soil. In 1999, Mexico held off Brazil at the Confederations Cup to secure their first title of the tournament.

    Campos started his career with UNAM, despite his desire to play as a goalkeeper he had to wait one year to get a chance, as the club already had a goalie. Therefore, the flamboyant player became a striker for one season.

3. Cuauhtemoc Blanco

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    Cuauhtemoc Blanco is a national hero. His 39 goals with Mexico set him as the second all-time scorer of El Tri.

    His career was impressive, and he was a factor every time he stepped onto the pitch. A natural game-changer, Blancos role with Mexico and his clubs changed slowly. From being an explosive footballer in his youth, he turned into a strategist as he matured.

    His accuracy and ball control allowed him to run from the midfield to the box and decide if he shot from long distance or passed the ball.

    El Cuau was also a fantastic dribbler, which allowed him to get into the box and shoot from close range.

    He has played with nine clubs and has scored 195 times. He stated that this would be his last season.

2. Rafael Marquez

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    Rafael Marquez is without a doubt the best defender Mexico have had.

    He has won it all in his club career: La Liga (4), Supercopa de Espana (3) UEFA Champions League (2), UEFA Super Cup (1), FIFA Club World Cup (1), Copa del Rey (1), Ligue 1 (1) and Liga MX (1).

    With the national team, he secured the 1999 Confederations Cup and the 2003 and 2011 Gold Cup.

    Marquez is a great leader; he knows how to organize his teammates in risky situations. He is fantastic with ball control and ball distribution.

    The Leon centre-back has an enviable touch and can send short and long passes as well as attempting long-distance goals.

    He will probably play his fourth World Cup next summer in Brazil.

1. Hugo Sanchez

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    Hugol was recognized by the IFFHS as CONCACAFs Player of the Century and named in Real Madrid’s all-time greatest XI.

    Although he arrived in Spain in 1981, it wasn’t until the 1984-85 season when he won his first Pichichi award.

    He moved to Real Madrid in 1985 and established himself as one of the best strikers in La Liga’s history.

    With Los Blancos, Sanchez won five league titles, one Copa del Rey and three Supercopas de Espana.

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

    He also represented Mexico in three World Cups (1978, 1986 and 1994) but only scored 29 times, mainly because when he was at his prime, the team was suspended by FIFA and as a result missed the 1990 World Cup.

    Sanchez was a very clever striker, with a fantastic goalscoring knack, and always hardworking.

    His endurance and fierceness, combined with his accuracy, set him as the best Mexican footballer in history.