When he was appointed Mexico’s national coach in 2009, Javier Aguirre found himself in a familiar position, taking charge of a team that was struggling to make their way in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifying competition. But, just as he did on the road to Korea/Japan 2002, the experienced Aguirre steadied the ship and safely steered El Tri to South Africa. The task now facing El Vasco is to take Mexico beyond the Round of 16, an insurmountable barrier for them in their last four appearances in the world finals.
Aguirre was a member of the Tricolor side that reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico, the highlight of a distinguished career in which he turned out for clubs of the stature of America and Guadalajara in Mexico and Osasuna in Spain. After moving into coaching, he began to make a name for himself by taking the unfancied Pachuca to the 1999 Invierno league title.
Two years later he was given the job of rescuing Mexico’s faltering bid for a place at Korea/Japan 2002, turning around an underachieving team who went on to qualify in style without losing another game. Aguirre’s achievements did not end there. When his side reached the Far East they topped a tough section featuring Italy, Croatia and Ecuador before suffering a painful defeat to neighbours and rivals USA in the Round of 16.
His next port of call was former club Osasuna, where he would go on to become one of the most successful coaches in their history. The high-point of his four-year stay came when Los Rojillos qualified for the UEFA Champions League, a notable achievement that prompted Atletico Madrid to come in for him. Just to show it was no fluke, Aguirre took Los Rojiblancos into Europe’s premier club competition as well.
After leaving the Vicente Calderon at the start of 2009, Aguirre was invited by the Mexican FA to repeat the miracle he had worked seven years earlier. Happy to accept, he revitalised Tricolor fortunes following a debut defeat to El Salvador, overseeing another unbeaten run as Mexico qualified for the world finals with plenty to spare. On top of that they also won the CONCACAF Gold Cup, thrashing hosts USA 5-0 in the final, their first win north of the border in a decade.
A consummate man-motivator, Aguirre’s success as a coach is founded on his tactical acumen and his ability to get his message across to his charges and to build a strong team spirit. Never asking too much of his players, he has a very clear vision of success and how to achieve it.
Aguirre’s Mexico invariably operate with a 4-3-3 formation, one designed to make the most of the speed of their forwards and the tactical discipline and physical strength Mexican players are known for. When the situation requires, he has been known to switch to 4-2-3-1, rotating three forwards down the flanks in support of a lone striker.
An avid reader, El Vasco is a staunch supporter of social causes and a great fan of baseball and boxing. An honest talker and strong-minded with it, he is not afraid to own up to his mistakes, a quality that has only increased his popularity in his native country.