Morgan Plata’s most recent experiences at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup stretch back four years now, though there is little chance that time will diminish the Mexican’s achievements at Rio de Janeiro 2007. Indeed, at the showpiece on the sands of the Copacabana, Plata helped fire his country to a shock runners-up berth as well as sharing a podium with Brazil’s Buru and Madjer of Portugal as the tournament’s third-best player.
Winner of the adidas Bronze Ball and the adidas Silver Boot that year in Rio, Plata has not appeared at the finals since. It is only now at Ravenna 2011 that he, alongside his Mexico team-mates, will have the opportunity to prove their 2007 campaign was no flash in the pan.
“Of course all that felt great. And I was really starting to miss how it felt to take part in a World Cup,” said the 29-year-old to FIFA.com. “After the 2007 edition I decided to try my luck in the 11-a-side game in Mexico’s second tier. During that period I ended up missing out on our trip to Marseille 2008 and our qualifying campaign for Dubai 2009.”
And on the evidence of El Tri’s results during said period, Plata was sorely missed by coach Ramon Raya’s side. At the event in France, Mexico fell at the first hurdle while they sprung a surprise by failing to negotiate CONCACAF qualifying for Dubai 2009.
“Absolutely no way,” said Plata, when asked if he was the star of this Mexico squad. “I’m not here as the winner of any individual awards, that’s all in the past. I’m just one of the lads, ready to do my bit for the team.”
And given his time away from beach soccer, did he lose any of his sharpness or love of the game? “Since I came back to beach soccer for good, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in tournaments like this August’s Mundialito and the first ever Mundialito de Clubes in April, where I played for the Seattle Sounders. At events like these you find yourself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Buru, Benjamin and Madjer, guys who’ve lived and breathed beach soccer for years and can teach you so much.”
Though he has not appeared at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for four years, Plata should know that his performances back in 2007 – which featured three goals in six games – proved he is well capable of holding his own in such exalted company. So, FIFA.com wants to know, does he often find that his reputation precedes him?
“I know that happens and it can put more pressure on you, but I guarantee you it’s a good type of pressure,” said Plata. “That tournament was incredible, and thinking about it just makes me even more determined to help Mexico hit those heights once again.”