Former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Club America, Guadalajara, Pumas, Puebla, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and MLS players feature in Mexico’s all-time squad.
Although it is not the countries national sport, football is by far the most popular sport in Mexico. Since being introduced to the game in the late 1800’s, Mexico has become the most successful nation in the CONCACAF, winning a record seven Gold Cup titles and becoming the only team from the region to win a recognised FIFA competition, the Confederations Cup, which they won in 1999, beating Brazil in the final.
Mexico have qualified for the World Cup 15 times, which is more than England, France and Spain, and means they trail only Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina. Unlike the seven aforementioned nations though, Mexico have never been crowned world champions, their best performances coming on home soil in 1970 and 1986, where they were knocked out in the Quarter-Finals by Italy and West Germany respectively.
In the Estadio Azteca, Mexico have the fourth biggest national team stadium in the world and hosted the second biggest attendance in World Cup final history. Below is Mexico’s definite 15 man squad, plus their 8 reserves from which you choose which 3 join the initial 15 to create a final 18 man squad.
An easy choice as the first name in this squad, Antonio Carbajal was the first player to play in five World Cup’s, a record which has since been matched by only Lothar Matthaus and Gianluigi Buffon. Markedly short for a goalkeeper at 5″11′, Carbajal began his career with Club Espana, before spending 16 years with Leon. He won 48 caps for Mexico.
It will be a tough battle between Antonio Carbajal and Jorge Campos for Mexico’s number one shirt at the International Legends World Cup. Capped 130 times by El Tri, Campos’ international career began in 1991, and ended in 2004. Conveniently for Mexico, Campos was also a capable centre-forward, bringing versatility and eccentricity to the squad.
The hardest decisions in this squad come at full-back, but the man likely to be Mexico’s right back at the Legends World Cup is Gustavo Pena. Primarily a centre-back, the former Oro, Cruz Azul and Monterrey man was also capable of playing as a full-back, and he won 82 caps for Mexico.
A nailed on starter for Mexico, Rafael Marquez is a legend of Mexican football. The first Mexican to win a Champions League, the first Mexican to play for Barcelona and widely regarded as the greatest Mexican defender of all-time, Marquez is the most capped active Mexican international, now aged 38. A title winner in France and Spain, Marquez won the Champions League twice at Barca.
Mexico’s most capped player, Claudio Suarez has the third most caps in football history, and the most of any player outside of Egypt. Suarez won his first cap for Mexico in 1992 and his 177th in 2006. A dependable centre-back who won the Gold Cup three times and the Confederations Cup in 1999, Suarez played for UNAM, Guadalajara and UANL in Mexico, as well as Chivas USA in the MLS.
We warned you full-back was a contentious position, and at left-back, Ramon Ramirez gets the nod. Primarily a central midfielder, Ramirez won 121 caps for Mexico despite some serious injury problems, and fully deserves a place in the squad. A versatile and well-rounded footballer, Ramirez is in the squad as a defender, but could yet play as a midfielder in the tournament depending on Mexico’s final 18.
Another player capable of playing in both defence and midfield, Pavel Pardo was primarily a defensive midfielder. Pardo played in Mexico for the likes of Atlas and America, the USA with Chicago Fire and in Europe with Bundesliga side Stuttgart. A two-time Gold Cup winner, one-time Confederations Cup winner and two-time World Cup participant, the vastly experienced Pardo won 146 caps for Mexico.
Following a raft of recent Mexico stars, we turn to a player who only Mexicans of a certain vintage will recall. Raul Cardenas won 37 caps for Mexico between 1948 and 1962. He began his relationship with the national team at the 1948 Olympic Games in London as a 19-year-old. A versatile player who combined outstanding work ethic with good technique, Cardenas played for Guadalajara, Marte and Puebla, representing Mexico in three World Cup’s.
Current Santos Laguna assistant manager Benjamin Galindo was a midfielder who was prolific for the Mexican national team, scoring 28 goals from 65 caps. Nicknamed El Maestro, Galindo was a really gifted footballer with excellent technique. Capable of playing in attacking midfield, central midfield or even out wide, Galindo aged like a fine wine and was probably at his best with Guadalajara and Santos Laguna.
Luis de la Fuente
Arguably the second best player Mexico have ever produced, Luis de la Fuente was the first Mexican to play in four different countries and among the first to make a real impression in Europe. A talented player with great athleticism, Fuente played for Racing Santander in Spain and scored 7 goals from 9 caps for Mexico.
Alberto Garcia Aspe
Yet another player with more than a century of appearances for Mexico, Alberto Garcia Aspe was capped 109 times by his country, scoring 21 goals. He played in three World Cup’s for his country, scoring in two. The diminutive midfield talent played for Pumas, Necaxa, River Plate, Club America and Puebla at club level.
Footballer turned politician Cuauhtemoc Blanco is one of the most iconic and gifted footballers Mexico has ever produced. The Club America and Mexico sensation who only actually ended his career in 2016, aged 43, even has a piece of skill named after him, the ‘Cuauhteminha’, which involves trapping the ball with both feet before jumping with it and advancing past an opponent. Blanco scored 39 goals from 120 caps for Mexico.
Far and away the greatest Mexican footballer of all-time, Hugo Sanchez took Europe by storm with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. The 1989-90 European Golden Boot winner won five La Liga titles in seven years with Los Blancos. Sanchez scored 82 goals in 152 games for Atletico and 208 goals in 283 games for Real. Mexico’s Player of the Century managed 29 goals in 58 caps for the national team, with whom he won the 1977 Gold Cup.
Some will argue that Javier Hernandez is too young at age 29 to make Mexico’s all-time squad, but the Bayer Leverkusen striker who is heavily linked with a return to the Premier League this summer is already the countries all-time leading goal scorer. The former Manchester United man who has also played for Guadalajara and Real Madrid is a real poacher, who made a big impression at the 2010 World Cup. Chicharito, as he is often known, has scored 48 goals from 94 caps for Mexico.
Mexico have far more strength and depth up front than anywhere else, meaning they have a lot of quality centre-forward’s in their reserves. Jared Borgetti is the man to join Sanchez and Chicharito in Mexico’s initial 15 though. The scorer of 46 international goals, Borgetti is second only to Hernandez in the scoring charts and has a better goals to game ratio. Borgetti’s best years were spent with Santos Laguna, where he scored 205 goals in 295 league game’s, making him their all-time leading scorer.
That’s it for Mexico’s definite 15, now it’s over to you to pick which three reserve players get the nod and join the likes of Marquez and Sanchez in Mexico’s final 18. The eight reserve players to choose from are as follows:
1. Ignacio Calderon – Former Guadalajara and UdeG goalkeeper – 60 caps
2. Jesus Del Muro – Former Atlas and Cruz Azul defender – 40 caps
3. Carlos Salcido – Former PSV and current Guadalajara full-back – 124 caps
4. Salvador Carmona – Former Toluca, Atlante, Guadalajara and Cruz Azul full-back – 84 caps
5. Salvador Reyes – Former Guadalajara and San Luis midfielder/forward – 49 caps
6. Giovani dos Santos – Former Barcelona, Tottenham, Villarreal and current LA Galaxy midfielder/forward – 95 caps*
7. Enrique Borja – Former Pumas and America striker – 65 caps
8. Horacio Casarin – Former Necaxa, Atlante, Barcelona and America striker – 16 caps