Mexico’s 25 best players of all time
Mexico occupies the fifth place in the historic list of National Teams with the most participations in World Cups (16). Those appearances in the final stage are only behind Brazil (21), Germany (19), Italy (18) and Argentina (17). Since 1994, Mexico has surpassed the group stage in seven consecutive World Cups. That feat has only been achieved by Brazil.
At the same time, Mexico has one of the strongest leagues in the continent just behind traditional powerhouses such as Brazil and Argentina. There are many players who couldn’t shine for the National Team, but still accumulated incredible numbers at the club level.
So, though it might seem like a very difficult task, in this article you will find the 25 best players in Mexico’s soccer history. World Cups, European careers, Mexican titles, individual records and many other factors have been considered in order to create a fair and compelling list.
25. Salvador Reyes
The famous ‘Chava’ Reyes participated in seven league titles won by Chivas between 1956 and 1965. That team, one of the best in Mexico’s history, was known as the Campeonisimo (The Greatest Champions). He is second in the all-time scoring list of the club (154 goals) and participated in three World Cups with the National Team (1958, 1962 and 1966). A superb striker who also played for Club Laguna, San Luis and Tigres UANL.
24. Alberto Garcia Aspe
Alberto Garcia Aspe had more than a 100 caps with the Mexican National Team and was a magnificent midfielder for Pumas UNAM, Necaxa and Club America. After strong performances in the 1994 World Cup, Aspe received a chance at River Plate in 1995 as one of the top-paid players of the team. Still, he hadn’t success in Argentina. The captain of the Tri retuned to Mexico and revamped his career with the Aguilas. He also had a very solid World Cup at France in 1998.
23. Manuel Negrete
Though he played as midfielder, Manuel Negrete is the Mexican player with the most goals scored (101) for Pumas UNAM. After seven years with that club (1979-1986), Negrete’s talent took him to Europe where he played for Sporting CP in Portugal and Sporting Gijon in Spain. He was one of the top players for Mexico in the 1986 World Cup at home and scored one of the most beautiful and acrobatic goals in history in the Round of 16 against Bulgaria. The famous Scissors Kick.
22. Pavel Pardo
Pavel Pardo took by storm the Bundesliga when Stuttgart surprised everyone claiming the 2007 title. The extraordinary midfielder got that chance after a great performance in the 2006 World Cup at Germany. In Mexico, Pardo was a crucial player for teams such as Atlas and Club America. In 1998, Pavel Pardo had a good World Cup in France, but, four years later, manager Javier Aguirre didn’t consider him. He won two championships with Club America (2002, 2005) and was part of the Mexican team which won the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.
21. Carlos Hermosillo
Carlos Hermosillo is the second-best scorer in Mexican League history with 294 goals (best among players born in Mexico). A superstar with Club America during the 80s and especially with Cruz Azul in the 90s, Hermosillo is also the fifth best scorer for the National Team. Still, he never got the chance to shine in the two World Cups he participated (1986 and 1994) because of lack of minutes.
20. Luis Roberto Alves ‘Zague’
Zague is the top-scorer in the history of Club America, the winningest team in Mexico. A striker with an impressive speed and a privileged left leg, he became a superstar in the 80s. Furthermore, during the 90s, Zague was an undisputed member of the National Team with a brilliant performance in the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador. Mexico finished in second place. Though he had no luck in the 1994 World Cup, Zague will always be remembered as one of Mexico’s most lethal forwards.
19. Enrique Borja
After a successful five-year tenure with Pumas UNAM, Enrique Borja was part of one of the most controversial transfers in Mexican league history. In 1969, though he didn’t want to leave the club, Pumas reached an agreement with archrival Club America and the rest is history. Borja won two titles with America and three times was the top-scorer of the league. He played in two World Cups (1966 and 1970).
18. Luis Garcia
Following the steps of Hugo Sanchez, Luis Garcia became one of the most prolific Mexican strikers in Europe. He grew as a forward in Pumas UNAM and then was signed by Atletico de Madrid where he scored more than 30 goals. After that, Luis Garcia had a brief stint with Real Sociedad and then returned to Mexico shining with teams such as Club America and Chivas. He scored twice against Ireland in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup and an unfair red card in the Round of 16 was crucial for the elimination vs Bulgaria.
17. Carlos Salcido
Carlos Salcido is one of the best defenders in Mexico’s history. His ability to play in different positions, as center defender or as left-back, made him a success nationally playing for Chivas and then in Europe for four years with PSV Eindhoven. Salcido was one of the veteran players added to the Mexican squad which won the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics (biggest moment in Mexico’s soccer history). He also played in three World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014).
16. Benjamin Galindo
Thanks to his uncompared technique, Benjamin Galindo is considered by many as the greatest midfielder in Mexico’s history. Nicknamed El Maestro (The Master), he simply had an educated and astonishing left leg. He was a symbol in clubs such as Tampico Madero, Chivas, Santos, Cruz Azul and Pachuca. Galindo was the first player to win a championship in Mexico with four different teams. Also, the pride of Zacatecas was fundamental with the National Team in the 1993 Copa America, but, he wasn’t used that much in the 1994 World Cup.
15. Guillermo Ochoa
Whether many fans like him or not, Guillermo Ochoa has to be in the conversation for Best Mexican Goalkeeper in history. He was the first Mexican goalkeeper who played in Europe: Ajaccio, Malaga, Granada and Standard Liege. Furthermore, Memo Ochoa has been the best player for Mexico in all the World Cups he has participated as a starter: Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018. His performances at Brazil were acclaimed by media and fans around the planet.
14. Luis de la Fuente
Luis de la Fuente was a midfielder with an extraordinary technique during the 30s and 40s. One of the best assistants in Mexican history distributing long and precise passes. His famous nickname was El Pirata (‘The Pirate’) and he played professionally for teams such as Aurrera, Marte, España and Club America. He was the first Mexican to play in Europe when he signed with Racing of Santander and his legend got to another level when he returned and gave Veracruz, his place of birth, two championships. He played for Mexico in the 1934 World Cup in Italy.
13. Luis Hernandez
Alongside Chicharito Hernandez, Luis Hernandez is Mexico’s top-scorer in World Cup history (4 goals). The amazing thing is that he did it in only one edition, with a spectacular performance at France in 1998. The striker also played in the 2002 World Cup, but he couldn’t score. Undoubtedly, his breakthrough tournament was the 1997 Copa America in Bolivia where he scored six goals. That earned him a shot to play for Boca Juniors in Argentina. In the Mexican League, Hernandez had his best years with Necaxa and Club America.
12. Carlos Vela
Many would say that Carlos Vela is the Mexican player with the greatest potential in history, but he personally decided not to take great risks. After the U-17 FIFA World Cup of 2005 in Peru, in which Mexico won the title, Vela was immediately signed by Arsenal to a five-year deal. As a prospect of the Gunners, he played loaned to teams such as Salamanca, Osasuna and West Bromwich. Then, Vela’s career was revamped at Real Sociedad in a magnificent tandem with Antoine Griezmann. The Spanish club paid his transfer fee and he spent six years in San Sebastian. Now, Carlos Vela is one of the best players in MLS with LAFC. He could have done a lot in greater clubs; nevertheless, Vela always preferred quality of life in a very respectable decision.
11. Claudio Suarez
The defender famously known as The Emperor was a leader in Pumas UNAM and Chivas of Guadalajara. Prior to Andres Guardado, Claudio Suarez held the record for most caps with the National Team (177). Elegant and with a delightful technique, Suarez was a cornerstone for Mexico during the 1994 and 1998 World Cups. Unfortunately, an injury prevented him of participating in Japan-Korea 2002.
10. Antonio Carbajal
The first player in history to participate in five World Cups (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966). That record was tied 32 years later by German defender, Lothar Matthaüs. The famous ‘Tota’ Carbajal was an extraordinary goalkeeper for Real Club España and Club Leon in the Mexican league. The IFFHS named him the Best Goalkeeper of CONCACAF in the 20th century. He even declined an offer to play for Real Madrid in the 60s.
9. Jared Borgetti
Jared Borgetti is the second-best scorer in Mexico’s National Team history (46 goals) and the third best scorer all-time in the Mexican league (252 goals). Borgetti was a superstar with Club Santos Laguna where he patented his signature play: head striking. In 2005, he became the first Mexican to play in the Premier League (Bolton Wanderers). The Desert Fox was Mexico’s star in the 2002 World Cup and made one of the most beautiful goals in the tournament against Italy. An injury left him out of the group stage in 2006.
8. Andres Guardado
Andres Guardado is the player with most caps in Mexico’s National Team history and is on pace to play his record fifth consecutive World Cup in Qatar. The pride of Atlas’ academy in Guadalajara had his breakthrough performance against Argentina during the Round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup. One year later, he took his first chance in Europe with Deportivo la Coruña. After brief periods with Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen, Guardado became one of the best players in the Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven (2014-2017). He’s played the last five years for Betis and was crucial to win the Copa del Rey in 2022.
7. Jorge Campos
Many believe Jorge Campos is the best goalkeeper in Mexico’s history. Those are strong words considering other names such as Antonio Carbajal and Guillermo Ochoa. Still, Campos was spectacular with Pumas UNAM and the National Team. A worldwide celebrity because of his skills (he could play goalkeeper and forward in the same game), but also thanks to his colorful uniforms. They became an unforgettable brand which put Campos in the spotlight after signing with Nike. Jorge Campos was the leader of Mexico’s National Team who lost the 1993 Copa America final against Argentina in Ecuador and almost reached the quarterfinals in the 1994 World Cup at the United States. He also was crucial for Mexico in the 1998 World Cup in France. He never played for a club in Europe and that’s a huge argument against him in the best goalkeeper debate.
6. Horacio Casarin
Chronologically speaking, Horacio Casarin is probably the first big name in Mexico’s soccer history. Undoubtedly, the striker was one of the best players in the country for almost 20 years. His debut was in 1936 and he retired in 1957. Casarin scored an impressive amount of 238 goals in the Mexican League. That was the league’s record for many years until Cabinho broke it in 1982. He was also a star with the National Team and played in the 1950 World Cup at Brazil. Horacio Casarin was an idol for thousands of fans and almost had a status of legend.
5. Tomas Boy
Tomas Boy was the captain of the Mexican National Team which gave the best performance in World Cup history. Period. An exquisite and legendary player with Tigres UANL, Tomas Boy was the leader of Bora Milutinovic’s squad which reach the quarterfinals in the 1986 World Cup. That was an amazing team and probably should have gone further if not for the penalty shootout against Germany in Monterrey. No other version of Mexico has made it to the famous Fifth Game in a World Cup. The famous El Jefe (The Boss or The Chief) was just a superb midfielder.
4. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez
The best all-time scorer for Mexico’s National team and the only Mexican who’s played for two of the greatest clubs in the world: Manchester United and Real Madrid. Chicharito was formed in Chivas of Guadalajara and in 2010, Jorge Vergara (the club’s owner) made possible an agreement with the Red Devils. Chicharito was mentored by legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, and had an immediate impact on attack helping Wayne Rooney. He won two Premier Leagues and played a Champions League final. Other teams in his career: Bayer Leverkusen, West Ham, Sevilla and LA Galaxy. Chicharito is Mexico’s top scorer in World Cup history (4) and also has the distinction of scoring in three consecutive World Cups (2010, 2014 and 2018).
3. Cuauhtemoc Blanco
A superb skilled-player and one of the greatest symbols for the most important team in Mexico: Club America. Cuauhtemoc Blanco, born in the famous neighborhood of Tepito, was developed at America’s academy and Leo Beenhakker was the manager who saw the star-caliber potential in him. He had great passages with Necaxa, returned to America and then a terrible knee-injury destroyed his European dream with Valladolid. Second best scorer in Club America’s history, third best for Mexico’s National Team and he was the first Mexican player to score in three different World Cups (1998, 2002 and 2010). Cuau was the cornerstone for Mexico’s biggest international title: the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.
2. Rafael Marquez
The best Mexican defender of all time and the player who’s won the most important international club titles in Mexico’s soccer history. Rafa Marquez was formed in the Atlas’ academy in Mexico and his great opportunity in Europe came with AS Monaco. After extraordinary performances in the French league, Barcelona signed him. Marquez was part of the greatest version of the club winning two Champions Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, four Spanish leagues and the famous 2009 Sextete (six titles in the same year).
1. Hugo Sanchez
There is absolutely no debate about this one. Five-time winner of the Pichichi as the top-scorer in Spain (4 with Real Madrid and 1 with Atletico de Madrid). Winner of the European Golden Boot (1989-1990). Hugo Sanchez, alongside the famous ‘Quinta del Buitre’, won five consecutive Spanish leagues (1986-1990), one Copa del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups and the memorable 1986 UEFA Cup. He is one of Real Madrid’s best strikers of all time with 208 goals. If the Ballon d’Or would have been eligible for all players worldwide at that time, Hugo Sanchez should have won at least one.