Two days ago, Pachuca won Tigres in the Concacaf Champions League final and secured a place in the 2017 FIFA Clubs World Cup. It was their fifth continental title. In the squad we can find three Colombians: the center backs Oscar Murillo & Stefan Medina and the striker Miguel Angel Calero Jr. while in Tigres played the striker Luis Quiñonez. Colombia either way would have been represented in the Clubs World Cup.
It’s not a coincidence. In the past few years, more and more Mexican clubs interest in Colombian players and more Colombian players sometimes prefer the Mexican league over many other offers. At the moment, the Mexican league includes the highest number of Colombian players who play in the local league, 17. Despite the fact that it is one of the strongest leagues in America, no doubt that the main reason is financial.
Mexico today is the richest league in the continent, except the MLS. It gives a chance to the Mexican clubs to temp South American talents, youth or in their prime, to join Mexico and sometimes to reject offers from Europe. Even though that many footballers dream to play in a major European club someday, it’s really hard to ignore the high salaries that the Mexican clubs can offer. And you have to remember that most of the Latin footballers came from a difficult background, and grew in a poverty. Add to that the fact that footballer’s career is usually very short and you’ll get the result that many of them prefer to give up Europe and take care of their families.
And it seems that the Mexicans have also a lot of respect for the Colombians. If we’ll go back to Pachuca, they maybe started this whole trand. Their greatest period of their history was between 2000-2010 when the won the Concacaf Champion League four times and added another four domestic championship. This team had two of their notable players like midfielder Andres Chitiva and goalkeeper Miguel Calero, who was basically a legend for the fans. Both Colombians. for several years the team also had Aquivaldo Mosquera, another center back who became the fans favorite. But no doubt that Calero was the one who impressed the most and consider as one of the best players to ever played in Mexico. Unfortunately he died at the age of 41 due to a heart attack. His funeral was almost like a royalty ceremony and his coffin was placed in the middle of the field in front of thousands of fans. A respect that I hardly remember that any other foreigner ever received.
Through all these years Mexico had several notable Colombian players who marked their names in the history books: Calero was one of them, but also Andres Chitiva, Luis Gabriel Rey, Carlos Darwin Quintero, Jackson Martinez, Dorlan Pabon, Edwin Cardona & Dayro Moreno. Some of them preferred to stay in Mexico because it was convenient, other tried their luck in Europe but couldn’t make it and returned (like Pabon). If sometimes the players would consider Mexico only as a trampoline to Euopre, today it’s a very strong league and many players prefer to earn the ‘big money’.
Even the national team decided to go on the Colombian option. Despite several options, Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio was chosen for the job. Beside a huge blow vs. Chile in the 2016 Copa Centenario quarter final, Osorio’s statistic is good and he is about to qualify with Mexico to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Talented players keep the Mexico and the level of the league is just getting better and better. Now we only have to wait and see if Mexico can be as good as the top European league or that money will continue to be the main reason to play in Mexico.