Probably Mexico's best footballer of the past 20 years, Cuauhtemoc Blanco will lace up his boots for the last time on the world stage in South Africa. These are the third finals for the veteran and, to a large extent, he is the reason Mexico made it to South Africa. After a disappointing start to the final CONCACAF qualifying phase, coach Javier Aguirre brought him out of international retirement and he had a key role to play in Mexico regaining their bearings and booking their passage with a game to spare.
Blanco had previously made vital contributions to Mexico's strong showings at France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002. In the former tournament, he achieved prominence for his eye-catching 'cuauhtemiña', the bunny hop he produced with the ball wedged between his feet.
There was also the fine goal he scored to complete the Tricolor's comeback from two behind in the 2-2 draw with Belgium. In the first round in 2002, meanwhile, he netted the penalty that secured an opening victory over Croatia and delivered the ball for Jared Borgetti’s incredible headed goal against Italy.
Thirty-seven now, and with more than 100 internationals behind him, Blanco will have an equally important job to do off the field as on it. The Veracruz player brings composure to a team that plays at a high pace. His experience will be an important counterbalance to the youthfulness of a team with a distinctly low average age. Whether he is a starting player or sits on the bench, Blanco seems certain to make his mark again.