When the final whistle sounded on his side’s 2-0 defeat of Al-Ahly in Sunday’s match for third place at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2012, Monterrey keeper Jonathan Orozco could not contain himself. His arms aloft and his eyes shining bright, he screamed loud into the Yokohama sky: “We did it! We really did it!”
“That’s the kind of thing us Mexicans do when we’re happy. And we are very happy,” he told FIFA.com afterwards.
The 26-year-old custodian had plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Not only had his side equalled Nexaca’s third place in 2000, previously the best ever performance by a Mexican team in the competition, he had also atoned for giving away a goal in Monterrey’s quarter-final win over Ulsan Hyundai.
“Obviously I’m relieved I played well today,” he explained. “Anyone can make a mistake and the funny thing is that I felt good in that game. But the ball moved around on its way to me, I made a mistake and that was that. I had to pick myself up and I felt great against Chelsea, just as I did today. The most important thing is that we managed to get third place for Mexico, which is good for our football and for CONCACAF too.”
In keeping a clean sheet against the Egyptians, Orozco also denied Mohamed Aboutrika, who has four FIFA Club World Cup goals to his name, the chance to move clear of Lionel Messi and Denilson and become the competition’s all-time leading goalscorer.
“They told me he needed one more goal to do it, but I tried not to think about it,” he recalled. “As it turned out I saved from him a few times, didn’t I?”
Reflecting on those stops, he said: “The hardest one was the shot he hit on the turn at the start of the second half. I only just got to it and managed to get a hand on the ball. Is there anything I want to say to him? Well, I’m very sorry [laughs], but I hope he gets another chance soon.”
Getting it right
Like the legendary Mexican shot-stopper Jorge Campos, who divided his time playing in goal and up front in the 1990s, Orozco was also a talented forward and had to choose in his teenage years between scoring goals or preventing them.
“I always played as a striker and the fact is I made a brilliant front-man,” he explained, with a grin on his face. “I knew what thought process keepers went through and I did everything I could to catch them off guard: bicycle kicks, first-time shots, etc. I was an amazing goalscorer.”
Yet at the age of 14 his days of terrorising the men between the posts came to an end, Orozco making the decision to follow in the footsteps of his father Hector, who played for Monterrey’s reserve team: “One of my coaches said to me there were no more Jorge Campos’ around and that I had to choose between keeping or scoring. I went for keeping and I haven’t regretted it for a second.”
Orozco’s role models are retired Argentinian goalkeeper Angel David Comizzo and Chelsea’s Petr Cech: “He’s the best there is and I’m delighted to have played against him.”
Though Los Rayados came off second best to Cech and Co, he revealed that he and his team-mates are delighted all the same to have claimed a place on the podium: “We’re very happy. We lost just one of our three games and that was against the best team in Europe. That’s a pretty good record.”
Before signing off, he added: “Are we thinking about coming back next year? You bet we are! In 2011 we came here to learn. This year we’ve done a lot better, and I hope it’ll be a case of third time lucky for us and that we’ll finally reach the final we’ve been dreaming about.”