Few players have had such a major and sustained impact on Mexican football as Rafael Marquez. Currently plying his trade for New York Red Bulls, the classy defender was his country’s only representative in Europe for several years. He has also proved a vital link between two eras at national team level: that of Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Luis Hernandez and the current generation spearheaded by Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos.
A born leader, the 32-year-old won every possible domestic and continental honour during his time with Barcelona, as well as captaining Mexico at three FIFA World Cups™. Fresh from Marquez winning his 100th senior cap for his country, FIFA.com pays tribute to one of El Tri’s genuine all-time greats by bringing you some pertinent stats from his glittering career.
The number of club teams that have earned a very special place in the centre-half's heart. Though he has turned out for four sides, Marquez has never hidden his depth of feeling for first club Atlas, where he came up through the youth system before breaking into the first team, and Barça, where he made his name as a world-class performer. Bridging the gap between those two clubs were Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.
The shirt number he has worn for most of his career, a number he first wore with El Tri at the Nigeria 1999 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup and which has become something of a calling card. The only exception was during his time at Atlas, when he sported the No27.
The number of FIFA World Cup appearances made by Marquez, a Mexican record. He is also the only man to captain El Tri at three editions of the global showpiece. Marquez notched two goals on the biggest stage of all, one against Argentina at Germany 2006 and another versus hosts South Africa in 2010.
The total number of trophies won by Marquez at club level to date. With Monaco he won Ligue 1 and the French Supercup in 2000, as well as the 2003 League Cup, before following that up with a staggering 12 titles at Barcelona. These included four La Liga triumphs, victory in two editions of the UEFA Champions League, and FIFA Club World Cup success in 2009. On the international scene he has claimed two pieces of silverware with El Tri: the FIFA Confederations Cup Mexico 1999 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2003.
The age the versatile defender made his full debut for Mexico. The call-up to an encounter against Ecuador was initially subject to some confusion after the youngster was mistakenly selected instead of his cousin and fellow Atlas player, Cesar Marquez. However, both Rafael and Cesar ended up appearing in the match.
The size of the squad that claimed El Tri’s biggest senior international title to date. Part of a group also including the likes of Jorge Campos, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Alberto Garcia Aspe, the then 20-year-old Marquez started every game of Mexico’s victory at the FIFA Confederations Cup 1999 on home soil.
The number of goals Marquez has scored during the course of his career so far, despite usually being deployed as a central defender or defensive midfielder. Always a threat in the air and boasting a subtle right foot capable of fine free-kicks, El Kaiser de Michoacán has struck 24 times at club level and 11 in a Tricolor jersey.
Having just become only the eighth player to win a century of caps for Mexico, Marquez joins an exclusive club featuring such luminaries of the Azteca game as Claudio Suarez, Pavel Pardo and Ramon Ramirez.