- Moreno set for his third World Cup finals appearance
- Defender has amassed 91 caps with El Tri
- One of three team captains, along with Rafa Marquez and Andres Guardado
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ could not be coming at a better time for Hector Moreno, who turned 30 this year. As standard bearer of a generation of players who have been together for many years, the Real Sociedad centre-back goes into the tournament at the peak of his powers and is dreaming of glory with his long-standing colleagues.
The task awaiting them is a challenging one, as he knows only too well. Drawn into a tough group with Germany, Sweden, and Korea Republic, El Tri will need to be on top of their game if they are to go far at Russia 2018. Moreno is aware of that and much more as well.
In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, he explains how Mexico need to respond to the four most important factors in football to ensure that their Russian adventure has a happy beginning, middle, and end.
“Let’s be totally honest about this: my number one ambition is to be a world champion. Ask any player that question and they’ll give you the same answer, and I know my team-mates have got their minds set on that too. We’re going to Russia to win.
"Obviously, we’re aware that there are a lot of factors that dictate whether you achieve that goal or not, like luck, referees, and the opposition. Success, to my mind, would be to come home secure in the knowledge that the people closest to me are proud of me. I don’t know what the final result’s going to be, but I’ll be happy as long as I know that I’ve given my all for my country.”
“Since Juan Carlos Osorio took over, we’ve prepared like never before and I’ve learned and improved a lot. Not only does he tell us what to do, but he’s also given us the tools to go out and make the best decisions. He’s doing everything he can to make us improve.
"When you go out to play now, you have a very clear plan in your head. Sometimes, it works out, but there are other times when the opposition comes into things, and we’ve lost a couple of warm-up matches along the way. That’s all part and parcel of the learning process, though, both for him and for us. You just have to turn the page and move on.
"And in that respect, we’ve also had the best possible back-up in this World Cup cycle. We’ve got a new physio and a mental coach. They’re little things, different things, and though they’re no guarantee that we’re going to become world champions, they’re definitely going to take us closer to that goal.”
“Mexican fans are very passionate and the country really cares about the national team. We know that and we understand it. The people who are around me and speak to me are generally positive and wish us the best. In the street and on social media, they almost always show me their support and wish us the best of luck for the World Cup.
"Obviously, there are always going to be people who don’t agree with things, but you take that as it comes and just let it go. You accept criticism when it comes, but in general, people want things to go really well for us.
"We also want to make them very happy because of other things that don’t have much to do with football, for everything we have to deal with in Mexico. It’s just a small, but important way, in which we can help our fans and families.”
“I’ve known most of my team-mates since we were very young and that’s really, really important. The core of the 2014 squad is still there, but we’ve got four years’ more experience now and we’ve all grown on a personal and professional level. We’ve all really kicked on and you can see that.
"I’ve got a family now and I’m settled in my everyday life, which helps me concentrate on my work and I approach it in the best possible way. That’s the case with most of us. Fortunately, we have balanced, settled personal lives.
"We’ve been through every possible experience in these last few years, and it’s all helped us grow, mature, learn, and come together much more as a group. We’re more united than ever and we’ve got a great group of players. There’s no question that’s going to be absolutely vital in Russia.”