Anyone who watched México during 2013 would know that one of the many reasons why ‘El Tri’ struggled as much as it did was a result of lacking a true captain who could by his mere presence calm the team down. At the end of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying campaign Rafael Marquez made his return to the national team after a one-year plus absence, and while there was not much he could do initially given the mess that was the national team, his presence now going forward will be vital.
In his press conference on Monday afternoon after the first training session, coach Miguel Herrera stated that the only player who was certain to go to Brazil and be a part of the 23-man squad would be named his captain, Rafael Marquez. While many know that Herrera has at least 75 percent of his 23-man squad set in his mind, the fact that he singled out Marquez as the lone player in his press conference on Monday was a clear signal that he was giving the most decorated Mexican player captaincy during the 2014 World Cup.
There is no question the career of one Rafael Marquez as a member of ‘El Tri’ has not always been the greatest, and it has had some maddening moments for fans. In fact, much the same could be said of his career in the two years prior to last August when his play saw a revival. That said, there is a reason why Marquez is set to play in his fourth World Cup.
What Marquez brings as captain is a player who is not weighed down and burdened by being the captain and everything that comes with it on and off the field. With this being the case, it allows the coach to have some peace of mind in having a helping hand and having that extension of himself during the 90 minutes of play to organize and inspire the other players. Now all this is in large part possible because Marquez is a fine defender, and while he may not have the foot speed he once did, the ‘Kaiser de Michoacan’ is still very good at reading the game and anticipating play.
Aside from his play on the field, Marquez’s ability to be a captain extends to his interaction off it as there have been numerous stories of his willingness to interact and probe national team coaches as to why they are making certain decisions but do so in a manner which is respectful and looking to help. One such story states that before Mexico’s Round of 16 loss at the 2010 World Cup he questioned then coach Javier Aguirre as to why he decided to start Aldofo Bautista as opposed to Javier Hernandez.
As mentioned earlier Rafael Marquez is the most decorated Mexican player of all-time as his time with FC Barcelona, and the fact he was a key figure during much of his time is a testament to the declaration. As Miguel Herrera and Mexico embark on its prep towards the World Cup and handle such delicate issues like the possible return of Carlos Vela, the fact that Rafael Marquez is back in the fold for his last World Cup run will give Mexico that much-needed leader that was missing for the majority of 2013.