If the English Premiership is the best the football League in the world then consider this; only 3 Mexicans have ever scored in the Premiership in its history. Also these between these 3 player’s : Jared Borghetti, Carlos Vela and Guillermo Franco they have amassed a grand total of 5 goals between them. Admittedly, Vela is still young and much is hoped for him in the future and Franco only joined West Ham in the last 6 months, but it still begs the question ;
“Why are Mexicans not succeeding in the European leagues?”
The benchmark is high, Hugo (Hugoals) Sanchez.
In a glittering career Sanchez amassed an amazing 488 goals in 694 league games for clubs in Mexico, the United States and Austria. However it was in Spain’s La Liga that Sanchez really impressed scoring 54 goals in 111 games for Athletico Madrid, 164 goals in 207 games for Real Madrid and 16 goals in 30 games for Rayo Vallecano. In total Sanchez is La Liga’s second highest goal scorer of all time a record only surpassed by an obscure Telmo Zara in the post war years.
Many will remember Sanchez’s goal celebration. The cartwheel come flip was favoured by the Mexican long before its popularity nowadays. For many their first view of Sanchez came in one of the three world cups he graced but only once did we see his famous celebration in the footballs premier competition. Mexican non-qualification in 1982 and 1990 deprived him of other opportunities.
Undoubtedly he is one of the finest strikers ever to play the game and he is regularly mentioned in greatest ever player polls so maybe it is unfair to measure the current crop against him.
However, if we glance upon the current Mexican national team squad we can see the players playing abroad as: Fransisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven,Holland), Jonathon Dos Santos, Raphael Marquez (Barcelona, Spain), Hector Romero (AZ Alkamaar, Holland), Ricardo Osario (Stuttgart, Germany), Carlos Vela (Arsenal, Spain), Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna ,Spain), Guillermo Franco (West Ham United , England), Nery Castillo (Olympiacos, Greece) and Giovanni Dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur, England).
Of all these players only maybe Salcido and Guardado are regulars in their teams and impressing with the rest being largely squad members or used as substitutes, if at all. Raphael Marquez is looking like a tired figure when used by Barca relying more on his sound, positional sense rather than pace. Giovanni Dos Santos has hardly featured for Tottenham this season nor has Vela for Arsenal, Franco is usually used as an impact sub for the Hammers and Castillo has only recently moved on to Greece after a poor spell in Russia.
And this not to take a Euro-centric view or downplay the merits of the Mexican league, which can be considered on a level of say Holland or Greece but from a population of nearly 110 million, of which the majority of are football fanatics, the percentage playing in the World’s top leagues is poor.
Upon asking this question to Mexican friends the answers are usually the same. Mexican players are homebodies.
Perhaps unlike many European countries the family unit is very tight in Mexico and it is fairly unusual for young people to stray from the family nest, at least until they are married or into their 30,s. Also, while not of the same standard of wages as Europe the Mexican top division provides the top salaries in Latin America. This factor becomes of greater importance given that the standard of living in Mexico is still relatively low.
In addition to this, in Mexico footballers are treated like gods and these players must enjoy the attention and worship from the fans. To give up all this and relocate to another continent, learn a new language and set up a new life may fill them with dread. However sometimes sacrifice’s must be made to reach the very pinnacle of the sport.
Maybe after a good World Cup for Mexico the big European teams will tempt the Mexican’s out of their comfort zone with promises of adulation and fortunes. Until then national team coach Javier Aguirre shall have to depend mainly on the home league players to bring success.