At the tender age of 23 Hiram Mier is already a seasoned trophy winner, having collected seven pieces of silverware for club and country to date. Reliable and experienced despite his youth, the centre-half is a bulwark of the Monterrey defence and a key factor in coach Victor Manuel Vucetich’s tactical plans.
His success story began on 25 August 2010, his 21st birthday, when he made his first-team debut in a CONCACAF Champions League match in Seattle. In the two years since then the young defender has never looked back.
“It’s all been very exciting,” he told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview, recalling the trophy trail he has blazed in recent times, with one very special achievement standing out from the rest: “I’ve played in some very important tournaments and won them. Each one’s got a history and meaning of its own, but for me the biggest was the gold medal at the Olympic Games. I’d always dreamed of playing in the Games and we were fortunate enough to go there and bring home Mexico’s first ever gold.”
Since winning the Mexican league title two years ago, Mier has tasted glory in the Pan-American Games, the Toulon Tournament, the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and at London 2012, though there was one big event where things did not go according to plan: last year’s FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
Looking back on that competition, in which the Mexicans lost on penalties to Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in the quarter-finals, he said: “That was a bad experience for us and we finished fifth out of six teams [Ed's note: seven teams took part in fact]. We wanted to reach the final, but it’s a tough tournament because the world’s top sides are there and they all want to win the trophy. We were out of luck in the shootout and that meant us going home early.”
A second chance
The Mexicans will have another crack at the whip this December, thanks to their successful defence of their CONCACAF crown. Though Mier, who names Mexico stopper Rafael Marquez as one of his inspirations, is not turning his thoughts just yet to Chelsea and Corinthians, he is grateful to be going back:
“We’ve got another very important opportunity coming our way, and we don’t want the same thing to happen as last time. The first match is absolutely vital, and we need to go step by step, focusing on each game.”
Mier has been building his career at the same time as taking a university degree in International Business Studies, the Rayados rock heading for classes each day after training. That work ethic and dedication is one of the secrets to his success, as he explained:
“I’ve always been grounded, been true to myself and worked very hard. I devote myself 100 per cent to something that I love and gives me so much in return. If you push yourself and give everything on the pitch, then you achieve the objectives that you set for yourself. There’s no need to change, no matter who you are or what you’ve won.”
As regards his next objective, Japan 2012, Mier believes Mexico’s recent triumphs on the international stage, including the London Olympics, where he proved an inspirational presence, could be just the motivation Monterrey need when they make their return to the Far East.
“I feel as if something’s changed,” he said, pointing to the winning mentality that seems to have infused Mexican football. “All the national teams, from the U-17s and U-20s to the women’s sides and now the U-23s, have shown a different mindset in the tournaments they’ve played in. One team wins a trophy and it seems to inspire the rest. There are some major competitions coming up and I think we can achieve big things.”
Now an undisputed first-choice in the Monterrey line-up and with plenty of experience under his belt, the successful defender is in no way overawed at the prospect of returning to Japan and attempting to improve on last year’s performance: “We’ve got another chance to do it better. It wasn’t the greatest of tournaments last year, but we’ll be fighting for first place this time and I’m determined to bring the cup back home.”