Without a doubt Mexico’s most influential defender of all time, come the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Rafael Marquez is in line to become the first player ever to captain his national side at four consecutive editions of the global showpiece.
A veteran of over 100 senior caps for El Tri and a trophy-laden spell at La Liga side FC Barcelona, with whom he won two UEFA Champions Leagues and the FIFA Club World Cup, just two years ago few would have backed the versatile centre-back to be representing Mexico on Brazilian soil.
An up-and-down sojourn in the MLS had nudged the iconic No4 out into the national-team wilderness and, then aged 33, a return to the peak of his powers appeared unlikely. Yet it is when overcoming obstacles that true greats prove their worth, and that is precisely what El Gran Capitán went about doing.
Opting to return to his homeland to play for CD Leon, a six-month settling-in period was all Marquez needed to rediscover his flair for leadership as well as his form, to the extent that his new team clinched an against-the-odds Mexican championship triumph just 18 months after winning promotion.
It therefore came as no surprise when, with Mexico floundering on the road to Brazil 2014, coach Victor Manuel Vucetich and his successor Miguel Herrera both looked to Marquez to steady a ship he had captained for over a decade. As a result, fans will be able to continue to savour one of the finest players in Mexican football history.