A Life Worth Living: Marquez Calls It Quits
Mexico’s exodus from Russia, not only sent the nation home but filed the papers for Rafael Marquez’s retirement. The El Tri legend at the age of 39, will finally hang up his boots for the last time.
Whilst Mexico can boast the likes of Lozano and Hernandez as their stars, Rafael Marquez preceded them. Born in 1979; he will have had the childhood memories of the World Cup in 1986. Mexico hosted the tournament and gave their best performance in the competition to date. They topped the group, advanced to the quarter-final and only just lost out to Germany on penalties.
As a seven-year-old boy in the country at the time, Marquez’s eyes would have been simply inseparable from the television set; even if it wasn’t his. This would have energized the boy and given him the cast for what he would do in the future. Fast-forward 32 years and we are paying tribute to a beautiful career.
Marquez was just a very young man when he started his professional career. At 17-years-old, he debuted for Atlas. Despite being some 150km+ away from his hometown of Zamora, in Guadalajara; he soon became at home with Los Zorros. He was playing regular football and contesting for trophies in the late 1990s with them.
His exceptional form in Mexico caught the eye of Monaco, and then later FC Barcelona. Five Spanish league titles, three cups, and the two Champions Leagues winner medals in seven years with Barca are enough to make the guise of a superstar; yet Marquez always – oh, always looked better in his national Mexican colours.
El Tri is not any old footballing nation. It’s a movement with supporters worldwide. The team participate in all manner of competitions, those in CONCACAF; they frequently make up the numbers in South America as well as regularly playing friendlies in the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe.
His time with the national team would define him, after playing five consecutive world cups (2002-2018); he would always play with his heart on his sleeve. Mexican media touts him as one the country’s best ever players – with a little tendency to be hot-headed in the bigger games. Who doesn’t have their flaws? He did, however, lift trophies with the Mexican side; including two Gold Cups, the Confederations Cup, and the CONCACAF Cup.
Marquez announced his retirement earlier this year and officially left his boyhood club, Atlas, for the second time, at the end of the season. His swansong was his fifth World Cup, only the third man to play so many. Mexico played well in their opening two games but suffered losses to Sweden and long-time foes: Brazil. The latter meaning that the CONCACAF contingent was sent home and Marquez ended his playing career in Samara, at the World Cup.
So, what next for Marquez? With a life in football, there’s no way that El Kaiser will be able to keep out of the spotlight for too long. He even went on file to say he’ll stay in football:
"For now I think I'll enjoy some free time. These have been 22 years of uninterrupted career and my future will surely be working in football".
This can surely be considered as a hint about a future management role. He’s on the same level as Lampard and Gerrard, both of which have signed up as managers with Derby County and Rangers respectively. Where and when? We can only speculate.
Marquez has the same calibre of a career as those aforementioned Englishmen, enough credible experience that his presence would benefit youngsters in the ranks. Immediate jobs could be assistant manager, under 21s coach or some obscure title we don’t even know yet, within the infinity of jobs at a football club. Where? Well, he’s been a loyal servant to the Mexican side as well as Atlas. They’d surely welcome him with open arms. He never actually won a medal with Atlas, maybe he could try to change that from the sidelines. Or then again, a few years back he did state he wanted to go back to Barcelona FC. Maybe a return to Spain would suit him and his own desires.
Although outside of football, we see some more of the centre back’s personality traits. He famously appeared in a Nesquik advert, where he touted young players to follow their dreams and fulfil their potential. Whilst the cynics reading may opt to believe this was a script that he read for money, I ask you to consider – that he isn’t short of money. He would have had some shape of interest in promoting youth development.
The countless amount of defensive pairings he has been part of across Mexico, Spain, and Italy and his consistent success in doing so is a testament to his communicative and interpersonal skills. It’s clear he can work with others. There’s no reason with his passion he can’t turn that into a facilitative role working with youth players.
We must also consider the role of the scout. Given his tenure in the game, we must bestow upon him a wealth of knowledge about the game. I am confident he can watch a game of football (at any level), and pick out the key players and say who has got it and who hasn’t got it. Coupled with his love for travel (he wouldn’t move his life across continents any less than four times if he didn’t like it); he’d be able to get real joy out of this role.
We thank Marquez for his services to football and hope his future non-playing roles are as successful wherever and whatever they may be.