Guillermo Ochoa will play in his fifth and, surely final, World Cup for Mexico as they look to be the surprise package at the Qatar tournament.
The 37-year-old goalkeeper, who is referred to in his homeland as ‘Memo’, has become a cult figure for his appearances on football’s biggest stage.
Ochoa – full name Francisco Guillermo Ochoa Magaaa – is currently playing in Liga MX (Mexico’s top division).
He is captain of Mexico City side Club America and has been plying his trade in his native country since moving from Standard Liege in 2019.
Ochoa came through the professional ranks at America and during his first stint he became the first Mexican to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2007.
Throughout his career, he’s travelled to Europe to play for Ligue 1 team Ajaccio and spent three years in Spain at Malaga and Granada.
Yet the fact Ochoa never turned out for an elite European side may have been a surprise to fans who have watched him become the best goalkeeper in the world every four years.
He was one of five Mexico players who tested positive for clenbuterol in 2011 – they were cleared two months later but the saga cost him a proposed move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Ochoa’s heroics in 2014 raised hopes of a revival at club level, with Arsenal among the Premier League teams interested in him.
But instead he found himself signing for Malaga in a move that proved disastrous as he spent most of the time on the bench.
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Ochoa’s club career may not have hit the heights he would have wanted but on the international stage it’s a different story.
The Guadalajara-born superstar made his debut for his country in 2005 and is their most-capped goalkeeper with 130 outings.
And that is despite the fact that he was called up to the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads but failed to make a single appearance.
In 2014, it was Ochoa’s time to shine as he produced a man of the match display to keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Brazil.
He made six saves, including two stunning stops to deny Neymar and Fred, and ultimately conceded just once in three group games as Mexico qualifed as runners-up.
Ochoa then collected another Man of the Match award for the last-16 game against Netherlands, but was powerless to stop Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring a stoppage-time penalty winner.
Ochoa returned to Russia 2018 with a vengeance following that defeat, making 25 saves in only FOUR games for Mexico.
Only Thibaut Courtois made more in the tournament overall and Belgium played three more matches having reached the semi-finals and then played in a third-placed playoff.
Mexico are now set to face Argentina in Group C in what will be Lionel Messi’s final dance as well – the clash of two World Cup GOATS…
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