Rafael MÃ¡rquez Ãlvarez is a Mexican centre back and defensive midfielder born on February 13,1979 in Zamora,MichoacÃ¡can.
Rafa began his career at Mexican club Atlas de Guadalajara,for whom he debuted in 1996 at only 17 years old.MÃ¡rquez rose to prominence while with Atlas,making 77 appearances for the team and being runner-up in the league losing the final against Club Toluca in penalties.in 1999,French club AS Monaco purchased him for â‚¬6 million.MÃ¡rquez was an immediate success with Monaco,helping lead the team to the French title in his first season with the club.Despite pressures from larger clubs,MÃ¡rquez would remain with the club until 2003,when FC Barcelona purchased him for â‚¬5 million and he became the first Mexican ever to play for BarÃ§a.
In his first season with Barcelona,MÃ¡rquez appeared 21 times,helping the team to a second place finish in La Liga.The knee ligament injuries to Edmilson and Thiago Motta meant that MÃ¡rquez was asked to step away from his usual role in the centre of the defence and play as a defensive midfielder,as he had done for both Monaco and Mexico in the past.He proved to be outstanding in front of the defence as he helped the side win the league title.
After an injury in his left knee,he returned after a month to play against Milan in the first leg of the 2006 UEFA Champions League semi-final which Barcelona won 1-0.On May 17,2006,he won the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona,making him the first ever Mexican football player to do so.
Rafa was rumored to be up for sale at the end of the 2006/2007 season.His future at Barcelona was up in air until the 2007 Copa America,where Rafa regained his best form and was one of the best players of the competition,helping Mexico to an acceptable 3rd place.After the 2007 Copa America,MÃ¡rquez was taken off the market and went back to training with his teammates.
Since making his international debut on February 5,1997 against Ecuador,MÃ¡rquez has played various tournaments with the Mexican team,winning the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.MÃ¡rquez started all four of Mexico’s games during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan,but received a red card during Mexico’s 2-0 loss to the United States.He was an integral part of Mexico’s subsequent World Cup qualifications campaign and was selected by coach Ricardo Lavolpe for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
During the WC Germany tournament,MÃ¡rquez played all of the four matches,and scored the lone Mexican goal in a 2-1 loss to Argentina in the round of sixteen.