Lessons learned for Mexico's Romo

30 Jul 2021
  • Luis Romo scored his first goal for Mexico at Tokyo 2020

  • 26-year-old a pillar of El Tri’s midfield

  • "We have great players of real quality"

Mexico midfielder Luis Romo may no longer spend his days hunting for oysters in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, but to this day he carries with him the lessons learned from a family who made their living from fishing.

"One of the traits instilled in me by my family is to give absolutely everything when I step out on the pitch – in other words to commit fully to it and become as good as I possibly can. Fishing is a job that requires a lot of effort, and that work ethic is part of my character. I always try my hardest and do so unconditionally," he says in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.

This total commitment and determination never to back down have seen him gradually become a key figure at current Mexican champions Cruz Azul and also in the Tri midfield at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020.

There he brings balance to the team and uses his great vision to start attacking moves. On top of that he can now count himself among the goalscorers, after getting on the scoresheet in his side’s last game against South Africa. "It was my first goal for the national team. Coming as it did at the Olympic Games in a match that secured our place in the next round was very nice. I could not have enjoyed it more.

"I'm having a great time and enjoying myself to the fullest. I hope to achieve a lot more, but thus far anyway, it's been my best footballing experience."

SAPPORO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Luis Romo #7 of Team Mexico scores their side's second goal past Ronwen Williams #1 of Team South Africa during the Men's First Round Group A match between South Africa and Mexico on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sapporo Dome on July 28, 2021 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

Victory over South Africa allowed the team to breathe again after a defeat to Japan in their second game threatened to end their quarter-final hopes.

"The takeaway from the Japan reverse was that we could not afford to start a game unfocused. We must always be 100 per cent switched on. Against South Africa we didn't immediately go charging forward but instead managed the game calmly and intelligently. We learned that from the earlier defeat."

A major challenge ahead

There was very little time to celebrate, however, as Mexico’s thoughts turned immediately to quarter-final opponents Korea Republic, another team who have showcased some great football at Tokyo 2020.

"They’re an opponent with a great deal of intensity. They possess very talented players, the kind who can make the difference in games, plus they gel together very well and are united in a common goal. We need to stay compact, run more than them, work harder than them and want it more than them. We have great players of great quality," Romo insists.

Three games into their campaign, the player believes there are clear lessons for El Tri. "Stay very focused for the full 90 minutes, or 98 to 100 minutes now with added time. Always be at 100 per cent. We also need to have confidence in ourselves and believe that we’re a great side with a lot of individual talent, which needs to be put at the service of the team so as to achieve great objectives".

SAPPORO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Luis Romo #7 of Team Mexico celebrates after scoring their side's second goal with team mate Henry Martin #9 during the Men's First Round Group A match between South Africa and Mexico on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sapporo Dome on July 28, 2021 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

The dream of gold 

As the event progresses, the number of teams still in contention for the gold medal keeps being whittled down. This top prize is what everyone is dreaming of but can only be enjoyed by one country.

"I came to Japan with the express purpose of winning the gold. In my mind I have that very clear objective and nothing else. That's what the whole team are here for. We weren't the favourites coming here or the team everyone expected to do well, but we have a very clear objective and will really fight for it."

It should also be said that Romo's outstanding performances here could transcend the borders of Tokyo and bring about his dream of moving to Europe to continue his professional career.

"Playing in major competitions can open doors to a lot of things. The Olympic Games, with a great team getting good results, opens every door, and that prospect really excites me," he concludes.