Calling all Mexican football fans! Are you a die-hard fan of El Tri? Do you love to debate about who the greatest players of all time are? If so, then this blog post is for you!
Here we’ll take a look at what many consider to be the top 20 greatest Mexican footballers in history.
From legendary strikers known for their goal-scoring abilities and brilliant midfielders whose timely passes create magic on the pitch, join us as we count down Mexico’s most iconic football heroes.
20. Manuel Negrete
- Career start: Manuel Negrete began his professional football career in 1980, playing for Club Universidad Nacional in Mexico.
- Why famous: Negrete gained fame for his exceptional midfield skills and his signature scissor kick goal, which he scored during the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
- Achievements: As a player, Negrete won several titles with Club Universidad Nacional, including the Primera Division de Mexico in 1980 and 1991. He also helped Mexico win the 1986 CONCACAF Gold Cup and reach the quarterfinals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. In 2015, he was inducted into the Mexican Football Federation’s Hall of Fame.
- Interesting facts: Aside from his football career, Negrete is also a trained architect and has designed several buildings in Mexico. He is also a big fan of traditional Mexican music and has released an album of ranchera songs. Additionally, Negrete has served as a commentator for various Mexican TV networks, providing analysis on football matches and tournaments.
19. Ramón Ramírez
- Career start: Jesús Ramón Ramírez Ceceña began his professional football career as a midfielder in Mexico in the late 1980s.
- Why famous: Ramírez is considered one of the greatest Mexican football players of the 1990s, known for his explosive attacking skills and his refined touch with the left foot. Despite his talents, he never played for a European club due to various injuries that interrupted his career.
- Achievements: Ramírez played for various Mexican clubs, including Chivas de Guadalajara, where he scored 26 goals. He is also one of the all-time most capped players for the Mexico national football team, with 121 appearances between 1991 and 2000.
- Interesting facts: Ramírez was known for creating most of his plays from the left side of the field, often finishing them himself or distributing the ball to the strikers. He was also a key player in helping Mexico reach the quarterfinals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In addition to his football career, Ramírez has also worked as a commentator and analyst for various Mexican TV networks, providing insights and expert opinions on football matches and tournaments.
18. Oswaldo Sánchez “San Oswaldo”
- Career start: Oswaldo Javier Sánchez Ibarra began his professional football career as a goalkeeper in 1993, playing for Atlas F.C. in the Mexican Primera División.
- Why famous: Sánchez is a former Mexican football player and one of the best goalkeepers in Mexican football history. He earned the nickname “San Oswaldo” among football fans for his stunning saves and incredible performances on the field.
- Achievements: Sánchez played for several Mexican clubs, including Santos Laguna, where he won the Mexican Primera División Clausura twice and the Copa MX once. He was also part of the Mexican national team, playing in several tournaments including the FIFA World Cup, the Copa América, the Confederations Cup, and the Gold Cup. In the 2005 Confederations Cup, Sánchez was awarded the Golden Glove for his outstanding performance, becoming the second Mexican to win a FIFA Confederations Cup Award.
- Interesting facts: In addition to his impressive football career, Sánchez also worked as a sports analyst for Televisa Deportes. He holds the record for the most penalty shots saved in the Mexican Primera División, with 25 saves. He also won several individual awards, including the Mexican Primera División Golden Glove seven times, the Mexican Primera División Golden Ball twice, the CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Glove once, and the FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Glove once. Sánchez retired from professional football in 2014.
17. Benjamín Galindo “El Maestro”
- Career start: Benjamín Galindo Marentes began his professional football career as a midfielder in 1980, playing for Tampico Madero in the Mexican Primera División.
- Why famous: Galindo is a former Mexican professional football player known for his smart and strategic play as a midfielder. He was nicknamed “El Maestro” (The Master) for his superb ball control, pass accuracy, and ability to make good choices on the field.
- Achievements: Galindo played for several Mexican clubs, including Guadalajara, Santos Laguna, Cruz Azul, and Pachuca. He was a regular with the Mexican national team, playing from 1983 to 1997 and participating in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
- Interesting facts: One of Galindo’s specialties was his powerful right-foot shot, particularly from long distances. He was also known for his versatility on the field, playing in various positions as needed. After retiring from playing, Galindo went on to become a successful coach, leading several Mexican clubs including Santos Laguna and Club Tijuana. In 2020, he suffered a stroke but has since made significant progress in his recovery.
16. Alberto García Aspe
- Career start: Alberto García Aspe began his professional football career in 1984, playing for UNAM in the Mexican Primera División.
- Why famous: García Aspe is a former Mexican professional footballer known for his leadership skills and his powerful left-foot shot. He is considered one of the finest midfielders in Mexico’s history.
- Achievements: García Aspe played for several Mexican clubs, including UNAM, Necaxa, América, and Puebla. He won three national championships at a professional level, with UNAM Pumas (1991) and Necaxa (1995, 1996). He is also one of the all-time appearance leaders for the Mexico national team, participating in 109 matches and scoring a total of 21 goals. García Aspe played in three FIFA World Cup tournaments: 1994, 1998, and 2002, scoring two goals from penalty kicks in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.
- Interesting facts: García Aspe’s leadership skills were highly valued by his teammates and coaches. He was known for his ability to organize the team in ways that few players have done before. García Aspe’s powerful left-foot shot was also a distinctive trait, which he used to score goals and make impressive plays on the field. After retiring from professional football, García Aspe has worked as a commentator and analyst for various Mexican TV networks, providing insights and expert opinions on football matches and tournaments.
15. Carlos Salcido
- Career start: Carlos Salcido began his professional football career in Guadalajara’s youth system and emerged as a center-back before playing most of his career as a left-back. He ended his career as a center-back.
- Why famous: Salcido is a former Mexican professional footballer known for his tough and versatile play as a left-back, defensive midfielder, and center-back. He showed his potential at the 2005 Confederations Cup and the 2006 World Cup, which led to PSV Eindhoven signing him. He was also a member of the Mexican team that won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
- Achievements: Salcido played for several clubs, including Guadalajara, PSV Eindhoven, Fulham, Tigres UANL, and Guadalajara again. He won several titles, including the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven, the Liga MX with Guadalajara, and the Olympic gold medal with Mexico. He also represented Mexico in three World Cups and three Gold Cups.
- Interesting facts: Salcido was known for his speed, strength, and versatility on the field, which allowed him to play in various positions as needed. He served as the first president of the Liga de Balompié Mexicano after retiring from playing.
14. Enrique Borja
- Career start: Enrique Borja began his professional football career in 1964 and played as a forward. He played for UNAM until he transferred to Club América in 1969.
- Why famous: Borja is one of Mexico’s top scorers, having scored 255 goals with El Tri, UNAM, and Club América from 1964 to 1977. He was known for his unusual goals and ability to score with various parts of his body, such as his hip, abdomen, and back. He also scored Mexico’s sole goal in the 1966 World Cup against France.
- Achievements: Borja was a three-time top scorer of the Mexican league, winning the title in the 1970-71, 1971-72, and 1972-73 seasons. He also won two championships with Club América in 1971 and 1976.
- Interesting facts: After retiring from playing, Borja served as the club president for Club Necaxa and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación. He also worked as a co-commentator for Univision during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In 2007, he became the club president for Tigres UANL, but was later destituted from the presidency in 2009.
13. Jared Borgetti
- Career start: Jared Borgetti began his professional football career playing for Atlas in 1994, and later played for Santos Laguna, Dorados, Pachuca, Bolton Wanderers, Al-Ittihad, Cruz Azul, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puebla, Morelia, and León.
- Why famous: Borgetti is known for being Mexico’s national team all-time scorer with 46 goals. He was the first Mexican to play in the English Premier League and scored 252 goals during his club career. Borgetti was a clever striker and was especially accurate with headers.
- Achievements: Borgetti is the second all-time leading goal scorer of the Mexican national team, behind Javier Hernández. He is the top goal scorer for Santos Laguna with 205 goals.
- Interesting facts: After retiring from playing, Borgetti became a commentator for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Mexico. He was popularly known by the nickname “El Zorro del Desierto” (The Desert Fox) in reference to his debut team, Atlas, and his birthplace.
12. Claudio Suárez El Emperador
- Career start: Claudio Suárez began his professional football career as a defender and played for several clubs, including Cruz Azul, Chivas de Guadalajara, Tigres UANL, and the MLS team Chivas USA.
- Why famous: Claudio Suárez is widely considered one of the greatest defenders in Mexican football history. He played a record-breaking 178 matches with the Mexico national team, captaining the squad for many years. Suárez was known for his physical attributes, including his strength, speed, and skill on the ball. He was nicknamed El Emperador (The Emperor) for his leadership skills on the pitch.
- Achievements: Suárez won several major titles throughout his career, including three Gold Cups and a Confederations Cup with the Mexico national team. He scored six goals with El Tri and an impressive 53 goals with the clubs he played for.
- Interesting facts: In addition to his successful football career, Suárez has also been a prominent advocate for social and political causes in Mexico. He has spoken out against corruption in football and has worked to promote education and environmentalism in his home country. In 2012, Suárez was inducted into the Mexican Football Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport.
11. Luis García
- Career start: Luis García made his professional debut at the age of 17 with UNAM, where he went on to score a total of 69 goals – the most he scored with any club.
- Why famous: García was a natural-born striker who went on to play for Atlético Madrid in Spain in 1992. He became the most successful Mexican footballer in Spain since Hugo Sánchez left the country. In his debut season, he set the scoring record for a Mexican player with 20 goals in 1992/1993.
- Achievements: Between 1991 and 1999, Luis García appeared in 79 matches for the Mexican national team and scored 29 goals.
- Interesting facts: Today, García is a football commentator for TV Azteca and is often referred to as “Doctor Garcia”. He narrates alongside Argentine-Mexican commentator Christian Martinoli.
10. Carlos Hermosillo “El Grandote de Cerro Azul”
- Career start: Carlos Hermosillo began his professional football career and played as a forward for América, Monterrey, Cruz Azul, Necaxa, Atlante, and Guadalajara, scoring a total of 279 goals.
- Why famous: Hermosillo is the Mexican footballer that has scored the most goals in the local tournament and is the second all-time leading scorer. He scored 153 goals with Cruz Azul, where he spent his best years. He also scored 35 goals for the national team, making him the third best scorer of El Tri.
- Achievements: Hermosillo had a successful career, winning three league titles with Cruz Azul and one with Necaxa. He was also part of the Mexican national team that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1993.
- Interesting facts: Hermosillo is nicknamed “El Grandote de Cerro Azul” (The big tall one from Cerro Azul). After retiring from playing, he became a football analyst and has worked for various television networks.
9. Salvador Reyes
- Career start: Chava Reyes began his professional football career with Chivas de Guadalajara, where he played as a forward. He made his debut for the club in the late 1950s and went on to have a remarkable career with them.
- Why famous: Reyes is renowned for his contributions to Chivas de Guadalajara. He holds the record for the most goals scored for the club, with an impressive tally of 122 goals. He played a vital role in the success of the team, winning seven championships with them. Reyes was also part of the squad known as Campeonísimo, which achieved great success during his time with the club.
- Achievements: In addition to his club achievements, Reyes represented the Mexico national team in three World Cups: 1958, 1962, and 1966. He scored a total of 14 goals with El Tri, including a crucial qualifying goal for the 1962 tournament.
- Interesting facts: Reyes won his first championship with Guadalajara in 1957, kickstarting a dominant period for the club. After his success, the team went on to win six more titles. He held the distinction of being the last player from Guadalajara to win the Campeon de Goleo (Goal scorer champion) until Omar Bravo achieved the feat in 2007. Sadly, Salvador Reyes Monteón passed away on December 29, 2012, at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest footballers in Chivas de Guadalajara’s history.
8. Luis Hernández “El Matador”
- Career start: Luis Hernández began his professional football career with Cruz Azul in the 1991/1992 season. Although he played for the club during his debut season, it was in 1995 when he truly showcased his capabilities.
- Why famous: Known as El Matador, Luis Hernández shares the third place in the all-time Mexico topscorers’ table with Carlos Hermosillo. He played as a striker and had a remarkable career. Hernández made his mark during the 1998 World Cup, where he scored four goals, becoming Mexico’s all-time leading scorer in World Cups and the first Mexican player to score more than twice in a single edition.
- Achievements: Hernández is the fourth all-time leading scorer of the Mexico national team, with 35 goals. He also holds the distinction of being the joint-highest goalscorer in World Cups for Mexico. Throughout his career, Hernández was widely regarded as one of Mexico’s most talented strikers.
- Interesting facts: El Matador possessed remarkable speed and strength, allowing him to challenge defenders and repeatedly steal the ball from them. His dynamic style of play made him a formidable presence on the field.
7. Luis De La Fuente
- Career start: Luis de la Fuente, nicknamed “Pirata” due to his father’s ownership of ships, was one of the first Mexican footballers to venture abroad. As a child, he spent his days on his father’s ships, hence the nickname.
- Why famous: De la Fuente gained recognition after his outstanding performance in the 1934 World Cup qualifier. Following his impressive display, he signed with Racing de Santander, playing one season before returning to Mexico. Subsequently, he embarked on another journey abroad, joining Corrales in Uruguay in 1939 and later moving to Vélez Sársfield in Argentina.
- Achievements: Luis de la Fuente represented the Mexico national team, commonly known as El Tri, from 1934 to 1950. Despite his contributions, he did not have the opportunity to participate in a World Cup. However, his skill and talent on the field have solidified his status as one of the finest Mexican and North American midfielders of all time. In fact, he was named to the IFFHS World Team for CONCACAF in 2021.
- Interesting facts: The nickname “Pirata” came from de la Fuente’s childhood experiences on ships owned by his father. These early encounters with maritime life left a lasting impression on him. Despite not making it to a World Cup, de la Fuente’s contributions to Mexican football and his achievements abroad have earned him a prominent place in football history.
6. Horacio Casarín
- Career start:
- Horacio Casarín debuted as a defender, but he was eventually moved to the attacking zone.
- He made his first appearance for Necaxa at the age of 17.
- Why famous:
- Casarín was a prominent figure in Mexican football during the first half of the 20th century.
- He became an idol for both his own team and rival fans due to his exceptional skills and performances.
- In 1938, Casarín was part of the Mexican national team that secured the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Panama.
- He played in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, where he scored Mexico’s only goal in the defeat against Switzerland.
- Casarín retired as the all-time leading scorer in the Mexican League, with 256 goals.
- Interesting facts:
- Casarín suffered a serious injury during his prime, which sidelined him for two years.
- Necaxa fans were so angry about his absence that they burnt the Asturias stadium in protest.
- After returning to professional football with Atlante, Casarín had a successful seven-season stint before a brief and less successful spell at Barcelona.
- He scored a total of 52 goals for the Mexican national team, although only 15 of them were officially recognized by FIFA as goals scored against national teams.
- According to Carlos F. Ramírez’s book, “Horacio Casarín, un ídolo y sus tiempos,” Casarín’s total goal tally in national competitions was 283, including 41 goals in the Copa México.
5. Antonio Carbajal
- La Tota’s Achievements:
- Antonio Carbajal, known as La Tota, holds the record for being the first player to appear in five World Cups: 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, and 1966.
- He was recognized as one of the best goalkeepers of the century, ranking 15th in the list of the best goalkeepers according to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).
- Carbajal received the FIFA Order of Merit, making him the only Mexican player to be honored with this prestigious award.
- Memorable Match:
- In the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, Carbajal played a crucial match against Wales.
- Mexico secured their first World Cup point after a draw in that match, marking a significant milestone for Mexican football.
- Club Career:
- Antonio Carbajal played for two clubs throughout his career.
- He started with Real Club España from 1948 to 1950, but left the club when it was dissolved.
- He then joined León and played for them from 1950 to 1966, spending the majority of his career with the club.
- Legacy and Recognition:
- Antonio Carbajal, also known as El Cinco Copas (The Five Cups), left a lasting legacy in Mexican football.
- His remarkable record of five World Cups played and his contributions to the national team earned him widespread recognition.
- Carbajal’s outstanding achievements and impact on Mexican football were acknowledged by receiving the FIFA Order of Merit, an exceptional honor.
4. Jorge Campos
- Jorge Campos was known for his flamboyant kits and charismatic personality on the pitch.
- He initially debuted as a striker and scored 14 goals in his first season with UNAM.
- Campos later transitioned to the goalkeeper position and spent seven seasons with Pumas before moving to Atlante.
- Throughout his career, he played for clubs such as Los Angeles Galaxy, Cruz Azul, Chicago Fire, Tigres UANL, and Puebla.
- Campos represented Mexico in three World Cups, two Confederation Cups, two Gold Cups, and three Copa Américas.
- His exceptional goalkeeping skills and contributions to the national team established him as one of Mexico’s greatest football icons.
3. Cuauhtémoc Blanco
- Controversial yet Exceptional:
- Cuauhtémoc Blanco is regarded as one of Mexico’s most controversial but exceptionally talented footballers.
- He has earned a reputation as one of the country’s best players, evident in his status as the second all-time leading scorer of the Mexico national team, with 39 goals.
- Club Career:
- Blanco made his debut in 1992 with Club América and enjoyed 12 seasons with the club, although not consecutively.
- Throughout his career, he also played for clubs such as Necaxa, Real Valladolid, and Veracruz, showcasing his skills and versatility.
- International Success:
- Blanco’s breakthrough came in 1999 at the Confederations Cup, where he emerged as a key player for the Mexican national team.
- He made a significant impact by scoring six goals, earning him the Silver Ball and Silver Boot at the tournament.
- Additionally, he shares the record for the highest number of goals in the tournament (nine goals) with Ronaldinho, achieved across two editions.
- World Cup Participation:
- Blanco’s international career spanned from 1995 to 2010, during which he represented Mexico in three World Cups.
- While playing on the grandest stage, he scored three goals, leaving his mark on the global football scene.
- Current Endeavors:
- Blanco’s passion for the game continues as he currently plays for Dorados de Sinaloa in the Ascenso MX (promotion league).
- His enduring presence and dedication to football demonstrate his love for the sport and his desire to contribute to the game at various levels.
2. Rafael Márquez
- Champion and Defensive Maestro:
- Rafael Márquez, widely regarded as the best defender in Mexican football history, holds the distinction of being the first Mexican player to win the UEFA Champions League.
- Club Career:
- Márquez began his professional career with three years at Atlas before making a move to Europe.
- At the young age of 20, French club Monaco acquired him, where he thrived in Ligue 1 and established himself as a fearless and tenacious defender.
- Success at Barcelona:
- Following his impressive performances, Barcelona secured Márquez’s services by paying five million euros, making him the first Mexican player in the club’s history.
- Over the course of seven seasons, he achieved remarkable success, winning 12 titles with the Blaugrana before eventually departing to join New York Red Bulls.
- Leadership and Versatility:
- Márquez is renowned for his leadership qualities and exceptional endurance, making him a formidable presence on the field.
- Not only is he a composed and accurate passer, but he also possesses a remarkable ability to score goals, particularly with his superlative heading skills.
- International Achievements:
- Representing the Mexico national team for an impressive 13 consecutive years, Márquez has accumulated numerous accolades.
- He played a vital role in Mexico’s triumphs at the 1999 Confederations Cup and the 2003 and 2011 Gold Cup tournaments.
- Furthermore, Márquez has had the honor of participating in three World Cups, showcasing his skills and leadership on the global stage.
1. Hugo Sánchez
- European Goal-Scoring Legend:
- Hugo Sánchez stands alone as the Mexican footballer with the most goals scored in Europe, leaving an indelible mark on the continent’s football landscape.
- Club Journey:
- After honing his skills in the local league and a stint with the San Diego Sockers, Hugo made his move to Europe by joining Atlético Madrid.
- Spending four fruitful seasons with the Red and Whites, he then made a switch to Real Madrid, where he played alongside some of the game’s finest talents for seven remarkable years.
- Achievements at Real Madrid:
- Sánchez’s time at Real Madrid was adorned with achievements, as he clinched the prestigious Pichichi award five times, with four of them coming during his tenure with the club.
- His contributions helped Real Madrid secure five La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, and three Supercopas de España.
- The IFFHS recognized his exceptional talent by naming him CONCACAF’s best Player of the Century, and he was also included in Real Madrid’s all-time greatest XI.
- International Stature:
- Representing Mexico in three World Cups (1978, 1986, and 1994), Hugo Sánchez left his mark on the global stage.
- Although he scored a respectable 29 goals for his country, placing him seventh in the all-time scorers list, his impact and influence extended beyond the numbers.
- Playing Style and Records:
- Renowned for his speed, strength, and exceptional positional sense, Sánchez possessed remarkable accuracy and a fierce determination that propelled his success.
- He held the record for the most goals scored in a single season for Real Madrid, amassing 38 goals, including his famous bicycle kick, a record that stood for 21 years until Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed it in 2011 with 40 goals.