|© UNICEF Spain|
|Rafael Marquez, defensive midfielder for FC Barcelona.|
One of Mexico’s most celebrated players of all time, Rafael Marquez, has not only made a big impact at home, but has also become a force on the international scene, playing in the Spanish league as a defensive midfielder for FC Barcelona.
Born in 1979 in Zamora, Mexico, Mr. Marquez grew up idolizing the legendary Franz Beckenbauer. Chasing his dream of being one of the greatest footballers, like his idol, Mr. Marquez began his career locally. He succeeded in a tryout bid with Atlas de Guadalajara, where he established himself as a future star at just 17 years of age.
After a stellar FIFA Confederations Cup Mexico in 1999, Mr. Marquez headed off to Europe, signing with Monaco for his first professional stint. He helped propel Monaco to the French title in his first season alongside another FIFA-UNICEF teammate, Thierry Henry, and was named the league’s top defender. Three impressive seasons with Monaco had the big international scouts knocking, and in 2003 Mr. Marquez headed for La Liga in Spain, with the chance to play for the international powerhouse FC Barcelona.
Ability to adjust
The promising young star had lived up to expectations, becoming the first Mexican ever to play for Barcelona. In his first year with the club, he played an integral role in advancing Barcelona to the Champions League competition. Coming into his own as a versatile player, Mr. Marquez has demonstrated his ability to use power only when absolutely necessary - preferring to rob strikers of the ball by stealth. He brings the ball out with great finesse, instigating many attacking moves, and deals with dangerous situations with a simple feint or delicate touch.
In World Cup play, Mr. Marquez was awarded the captain's armband during 2002 games in Korea/Japan. He has played an instrumental role - helping lead Mexico to qualify for two World Cups with his deft defence, and much-heralded heading skills.
His youth and unique ability to adjust on the field make him one of football’s most outstanding defenders.