Maynor Figueroa is in vogue in the English Premier League. The battling left-back has had a season to remember with Wigan Athletic, and is in the sights of several of the country’s leading clubs, which should do his confidence no harm ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Figueroa was born and bred in La Ceiba, a city that has produced several of the finest footballers to emerge from Honduras. A youth player with local side Club Deportivo Victoria, he then moved to national big guns Olimpia, where he played more than 150 games during his five-year association with the club, gaining a reputation as a fleet-footed and tactically astute defender.
It was then that Wigan began taking an interest in him, having struck lucky with his compatriot Wilson Palacios. Arriving in England for a trial, Figueroa impressed Latics coach Steve Bruce and a deal was promptly done.
Down-to-earth and hard-working, the club’s new Honduran import quickly made the left flank his own, his willingness to contest every ball helping establish him as a valuable member of the side and a popular figure with the fans.
His performances in England have also boosted his international career with La Albiazul. Aged 20, he played his first games for his country at the 2003 UNCAF Nations Cup in Panama, a tournament used to blood several players ahead of the qualifiers for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004.
Over the next few years, he gradually worked his way into the full national team, distinguishing himself in an unfamiliar role as a left-sided central defender in the qualifying competition for Germany 2006 and the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Like many of the current members of the Honduras side, however, it was not until the arrival of the Colombian Reinaldo Rueda in the Catracho hotseat that Figueroa began to show his full potential on the international stage. His rock-solid performances in the centre of defence were a feature of the Hondurans’ qualification for South Africa 2010, which they achieved by finishing third in the final six-team group in the CONCACAF Zone.
Now 27, Figueroa is bracing himself for the biggest challenge of his short but intense career. Yet, as he has already proved in one of the toughest leagues of all, the Wigan man is more than capable of holding his own against the world’s elite front men.