Colombian goalkeeper Miguel Calero is a legendary figure at Mexican club Pachuca, who are gearing up for their third appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup in the last four years.
A fixture with Los Tuzos for the last ten years, Calero has had a big hand in their recent successes, which include four league championships, four CONCACAF Champions League titles and a Copa Sudamericana triumph that has made them the only Mexican team to have won a CONMEBOL competition.
Though he has endured some difficult times of late, suffering various health problems that have threatened his career, the vastly experienced custodian is still going strong as he approaches his 40th birthday.
Now preparing for another assault on the FIFA Club World Cup, the only club trophy to have eluded him during his distinguished association with the game, he spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about that objective and more.
FIFA.com: Miguel, what does it mean to you to be going to your third FIFA Club World Cup?
It’s so important for me, just like when I became a father for the first time. I hope we get the chance to play, to shine and to take the step forward that we really need. Our aim is to improve on the performances we gave at our two previous appearances in Japan.
You’ve played a part in virtually all Pachuca’s recent successes. Would the Club World Cup be the icing on the cake for you?
Yes, I think so. There’s one club title I’m missing and that’s a world title. Fortunately, football and life are such wonderful things that here we are, getting an opportunity to go right out and achieve it. It’s good to remember everything I’ve won so far and it boosts your self-confidence, but all I’m thinking of right now, and all I want, is the Club World Cup trophy.
You had some serious health issues not so long ago. What kept you going?
Football, in all honesty. Football is my life. In 2007 I was very ill with thrombosis in my left arm, and in 2009 I had a soft-tissue infection and almost got gangrene in my arm. They would have had to amputate it. Life and football have treated me so well though, and they’re still giving me the chance to keep on working. I hope in the very near future to give back to football and life just a little of all the things they’ve given me.
Do you see yourself playing for much longer? If Pachuca do win in Abu Dhabi, do you think it would persuade you to keep going?
More than anything else I want to have a good Club World Cup, put on a good display and help the team. What happens on the pitch after that will decide if we’re champions or not. I’m not really thinking about retirement to be honest. I live for the present and my present right now involves getting up at six o’clock tomorrow morning to go training.
Necaxa surprised everyone at the first FIFA Club World Cup but since then Mexican clubs have flattered to deceive, including Pachuca on two occasions. Why do you think they’ve struggled in the competition?
Our opponents have been better than us, as simple as that. There’s not that much difference between teams any more but I think we need to forget about the past and focus on the future. We’ve got a chance to turn things around and go for glory. Football and life have given us that opportunity.
If you beat TP Mazembe in your opening game, you’ll face Internacional of Brazil in the semis, with Inter Milan quite possibly waiting in the final should you get there. Is that the ideal route for you?
The ideal route is the one to the final, but we know it’s not going to be easy because every team will be going out there to win. The only thing we have to think about is playing our first game, doing well and winning it. After that we’ll face whatever comes.
Pachuca improved after a slow start in the league and reached the end-of-season play-offs. How do you think it might affect your chances in Abu Dhabi if you get knocked out?
Something like that always hits you hard but all we’re concentrating on right now is hitting the form we need for the Club World Cup. Our aim is to play well, get stronger and to use these games to improve and get a better understanding of what the coach wants.
Will it be third time lucky for Pachuca?
I hope so. Our aim is to acquit ourselves well, have a good tournament, and make the progress that both Pachuca and Mexican football require in order to impress on the world stage.