Mexico's Greatest XI: 2000-2020

Ross Kennerley
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When you think about South American football, naturally the powerhouse duo of Brazil and Argentina spring to mind first.

That, however, is somewhat unfair, because Mexico has produced some fine footballers since the turn of the century. Sure, that hasn't always transferred into success, with the nation failing to progress beyond the round of 16 stage in each of the World Cups since 2000.

They have claimed five CONCACAF Gold Cup titles, though, and have come within a whisker of winning the Copa America during that time. That, you don't do without a decent set of players.

Who has been good enough to grace the famous green shirt then? And who is worthy of earning themselves a place in the best side over the last 20 years? This lot, that's who.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Guillermo Ochoa (GK)

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Part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup winning side of 2009, Ochoa burst onto the global scene during the 2014 World Cup, in which he produced one of the finest goalkeeping displays the tournament has ever seen during Mexico's 0-0 draw with Brazil. His performances and saves brought with them Gordon Banks comparisons that year, which, let's be honest, doesn't happen all too often.

His club career saw him play in France, Spain and Belgium, but he's now back in his native country with Club América.


Ramon Ramirez (RB)

Playing all bar two seasons of his career in Mexico, the iconic nature of Ramirez in his country cannot be understated. The central midfielder was so talented that he would often be used as a utility player, meaning a spot at full back was never out of the question.

He remains the eighth most capped player in the history of the Mexico national team, regularly featuring under whichever manager was in charge.


Rafael Marquez (CB)

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With 147 Mexico caps and 240 Barcelona outings, I think it's fair to say that Marquez is the greatest defender in the history of Mexican football. Not only that, he's widely regarded as one of the nation's best ever players.

An elegance on the ball that was imperative to fit into La Blaugrana's system, the centre-back was a beast in the air as well, which counteracted perfectly with the luscious locks he rocked for so many years.


Ricardo Osorio (CB)

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Being a legend in Mexico and Germany is not a common occurrence, but Osorio, without question, holds that accolade. Another player who burst onto the world scene following a superb World Cup campaign, it was his 2006 showing that prompted clubs in Europe to take note.

VfB Stuttgart were the beneficiaries, signing the defender that summer where he immediately made an impact by securing the Bundesliga title for his new club. He also claimed two Gold Cup titles with his nation.


Carlos Salcido (LB)

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Taking part in three World Cups for his nation, Salcido firmly cemented himself as one of the most dangerous left-backs in Europe during his playing days. PSV Eindhoven was his home for four seasons, where became the first Mexican to lift the Eredivisie title (something he did twice).

Such was his reputation that a Premier League move was inevitable, as Fulham secured his signature in 2010. Salcido scored ten goals from defence for his country, before calling time on his career in 2019 at the age of 39.


Midfielders

Gerardo Torrado (CM)

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Notching 146 caps for his country, it's likely every player he faced during his career will know they faced him. Why? Becuase Torrado was a menace on the pitch, with his all-action style of play off the ball perfectly complementing his slick ability when in possession.

His nickname is El Borrego (The Sheep) as well, because he had bushy hair. He'd argue he was more of a shepherd, though.


Pavel Pardo (CM)

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One of the silkiest defensive midfielders on the ball, he formed the second part of VfB Stuttgart's Mexican recruitment in 2006, joining Osorio in moving to Germany where he claimed a Bundesliga title.

He's a legend in his own nation too, ranking second on the list of most capped players in the country's history. Played most of his career in Mexico, but finished his career with Chicago Fire in MLS.


Carlos Vela (RM)

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A player who Arsenal will surely think they let slip away, Vela found the right club for himself when he moved to Real Sociedad in 2012. His time with the Gunners was not a complete disappointment, but his career exploded when he left north London. 75 goals in 250 outings for the Spanish side saw a move to the MLS materialise in 2018, and he's since torn the division apart with 57 goals in just 71 appearances for Los Angeles FC.

Oh, and he scored a nifty 19 goals for his country, including one at the 2018 World Cup.


Cuauhtémoc (AM)

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Before making the leap into politics, Cuauhtémoc was a fearsome goalscoring midfielder who made his mark on every club he played for. His five seperate stints at Club America are what he is most fondly remembered for, where he scored over 120 goals.

For the national team he was a regular fixture, featuring in three World Cups and becoming the first Mexican to score in three separate tournaments. His 39 goals make him his nation's third highest goalscorer.


Giovani dos Santos (LM)

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One of the more familiar names to a European audience was the technically gifted Dos Santos, who holds the bizarre honour of playing for both Barcelona and Ipswich Town in his career. He also had a stint at Tottenham, as well as featuring for three sides in La Liga.

A versatile forward who could play across the front line, he had flair and trickery in abundance. He's now back in Mexico with Club América.


Striker

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Javier Hernández (ST)

Was it ever going to be anyone else? The two-time Premier League champion with Manchester United scored some crucial goals for the Red Devils, but above that, he scored a lot of them. His international haul is unmatched, with his 52 goals in 109 outings making him his nation's all-time leading scorer. Still only 31 years old, he's got plenty of time to add to that, too.


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