For Javier Aguirre, Gerardo Torrado is one of Mexico's "three field marshals" along with Rafael Marquez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
Seeing him in action, it is impossible to question the coach's logic, for Torrado belongs to the breed of footballer that leads by example. A tenacious, terrier-like midfielder, he is forever snapping at opponents' heels in his desire to win the ball.
The Mexico No6 rose to prominence in 1999 when, without a single first-team appearance for his club side Pumas, he received a call-up to Manuel Lapuente's squad for the CONMEBOL Copa America on the back of some fine displays for the national Under-20 team. Torrado displayed a composure beyond his years in the tournament in Paraguay, even scoring a late equaliser against Peru in a quarter-final that Mexico won on penalties.
Soon after, he headed to Europe to join Tenerife, then in the Spanish second tier. Under coach Rafael Benitez, he played a pivotal role as Tenerife won promotion to the top flight in the 2000/01 season. Although the Mexican began the following campaign back in the second division with modest Polideportivo Ejido, before long he had the big opportunity he had been seeking with a move to Sevilla.
Torrado spent two full seasons in the Andalusian capital before heading north to Racing Santander for the 2004/05 campaign. After five years in Spain, however, the player they call 'Borrego' (lamb) for his curly head of hair decided to return home and signed for Cruz Azul, the club he now captains.
Torrado has been a fixture in the Mexico team for every coach he has worked under – even winning round Ricardo La Volpe, Mexico's trainer at Germany 2006. The midfielder had initially not featured in La Volpe's plans but the coach ended up handing Torrado three starts in Germany on his return to the world stage that he had first trod in 2002 when he was considered one of the best players in his position in Korea/Japan.
If fierce tackling and tireless effort are his trademark, Torrado is not lacking technical ability either. Mexico's attacking game is based on quick circulation of the ball, and he can certainly hold his own when it comes to crisp passing. Above all though, his team-mates know that when they do lose possession, he will be the one rushing to recover it.
Torrado has also earned attention for his changes of image. During his career, he has gone from an afro look to a short-back-and-sides to an entirely shaved head. The fact his skin is sensitive to the sun means he must wear sunblock when he plays, making him hard to miss. Mexico fans will hope their No6 catches the eye for other reasons at South Africa 2010.