After scarcely six months as a professional, Jose Guardado is a pacy left winger who sprang to fame when, at 19, he received an unexpected call-up to Ricardo La Volpe's Mexico squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.
It was even more of a surprise when he was handed his FIFA World Cup baptism of fire in the last-16 showdown with Argentina, yet the youngster performed impressively against the South Americans until an untimely injury forced him off the field in the second half.
Guardado is a product of Atlas de Guadalajara's bountiful youth system and he became a key player for the club on his return from Germany. His displays for both Atlas and his country soon drew the attention of clubs in Europe and in 2007, he left Mexico for Deportivo La Coruna.
With his speed, technique and shooting ability from distance, Guardado wasted no time in winning a place in the Galician club's starting line-up. He has gone on to become one of Deportivo's star men and is regarded as one of the Liga's best foreign players, the football gossip columns linking him regularly with a move to one of Europe's big-name outfits.
Since his dramatic introduction to the international scene, Guardado has remained a fixture in the Tricolor team, this despite the coaching merry-go-round of the last few years. Nicknamed 'El Principito' – the little prince – he has filled several different positions for his country, playing in left midfield, central midfield and as a wide attacker, his favourite role and that which he occupies currently in the 4-3-3 system usually employed by Javier Aguirre.
Besides the last FIFA World Cup, Guardado has also contested a CONMEBOL Copa America and a CONCACAF Gold Cup. Together with Ricardo Osorio, he made more appearances than any other player in Mexico's qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010, playing 16 times and scoring three goals. A pivotal presence for his country, the 23-year-old will have passed the 50-cap mark by the time the finals kick off in South Africa.
Guardado's qualities include lightning speed and superb vision. From his wide berth, he has the ability to get to the byline and cross with pinpoint accuracy to a team-mate's head. Not only does he create, he can also finish thanks to a powerful left foot that makes him a threat from both open play and dead balls.
His positive influence goes beyond the field of play. Guardado is a straightforward, likeable individual, who focuses all his energies on his football. He is also ambitious: he has made clear his aim to make history with Mexico, and South Africa would be the perfect place to do it.