Sunday 10 July 2011 was a memorable day in the recent history of Mexican football. It was then, on an unforgettable evening at a packed Estadio Azteca, that El Tricolor won the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the second time, defeating Uruguay 2-0 in an enthralling match.
Carlos Fierro was one of the outstanding performers in that Mexico side and in the tournament in general, scoring four goals in all to collect the adidas Bronze Ball as the third-highest goalscorer.
One year on from Mexico’s milestone success, the high-flying forward, who plays his club football for Guadalajara, spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about those world finals and the impact they have had on his burgeoning career.
An explosion of joy
Fierro has yet to turn 18, a landmark he reaches on 24 July. He was only 16 when he lined up with his team-mates to receive the biggest trophy of his fledgling career in front of 100,000 fans at the Azteca Stadium.
Little wonder, then, that when asked to describe that day he is still taken aback by it all: “The whole tournament was very exciting, especially the final. I remember everyone singing the national anthem before the game and “Cielito Lindo” after we went ahead. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. And it was even more special when it was all over and we knew we were champions of the world.”
The Chivas striker had an exceptional tournament, showing his eye for goal and leading the Mexican attack with the aplomb of a veteran. And like the rest of his team-mates, he was confident all along that they could achieve something big.
“From the very first game we knew we had a side that could go all the way,” he said. “Not many people had much faith in us before the tournament, but we never had any doubts. As the days went by our desire to win the competition just grew and grew, and we did it in the end because we stuck together like a family.”
Among the many inevitable obstacles the Mexicans faced on their way to the title, Fierro picked out one in particular: “The semi-final against Germany, who were a very tough side. We won 3-2 in the end but we really had to work for it and it looked at one stage as if we might lose. My team-mate Julio Gomez was the hero of the hour, though. Despite suffering a head injury, he got up there to score the winner.”
Mexico’s triumphant march to the world crown left Fierro with many lasting memories of events off the pitch, as he explained, somewhat wistfully: “They were very happy times: all the preparation we did before the tournament, the training sessions, the early-morning wake-up calls and the team meals, where we had a lot of fun. How can I forget all of that?”.
A promising future
Fierro was promoted to the Chivas first team after the tournament and made his debut just two months later, in the victory over Tijuana on 2 September 2011. Since then the youngster has made 21 appearances, starting on nine of those occasions. Though he has yet to claim his first Mexican league goal, he has opened his Copa Libertadores account, scoring his side’s winner against Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting.
Through it all, the experience he acquired at Mexico 2011 has proved vital: “It’s been a huge boost to start off my career with a competition like that. It was a springboard and it’s shown me that I can achieve big things.
“Nobody knew me before, but now people come up to me and ask for photos and autographs,” he continued, explaining how his life has changed in the last year. “I try to stay grounded and deal with all the fans’ requests. It’s part and parcel of the game and I accept that.”
Among the many challenges the young Fierro faces in the future is the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013, one that clearly excites him: “For sure it does. It’s always exciting to be in the national side, and obviously I want to keep it going and win two consecutive World Cups. It’s very difficult but if you work hard, you can always achieve your goals.”
So what does the future hold? “I’ve been dreaming of playing at the 2014 World Cup and of going to Europe, where my favourite team is Barcelona,” he replied, setting the sky as his limit. “I need to take things one step at a time, starting with holding down a place at Chivas. All in good time, though! I’m still very young and there’s no need for me to lose hope.”