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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who is Rafael Márquez Álvarez?

Who is Rafael Márquez Álvarez? The Soccer world know him as a Mexican footballer, who is currently a free agent after being given a free transfer by his previous club Barcelona in La Liga. He plays as a centre back or defensive midfielder. He also captains the Mexico national team.

Club career

Atlas

Márquez was born 13 February 1979 in Zamora, Michoacán. He began his career at Atlas, for whom he debuted in 1996 at the age of 17. Márquez rose to prominence while with Atlas, making 77 appearances for the team and being runner-up in the league losing the final against Deportivo Toluca in penalties.

Monaco

In 1999, Monaco purchased him for €6 million. Monaco scouts had gone to see Pablo Contreras on a Copa América match against Mexico, but they were impressed with Márquez's performance, so they signed the two defenders. Marquez was an immediate success with Monaco, helping lead the team to the French title in his first season with the club. Despite pressures from larger clubs, he would remain with the Monegasque club until 2003, when Barcelona signed him for €5 million to revitalize their back line. In doing so, he became only the second Mexican to play for Barcelona, after Horacio Casarín.

Barcelona

In his first season with Barcelona, Márquez appeared 21 times, helping the team to a second place finish in La Liga. During his second season, he was moved from his natural position as a center back to a defensive midfield role, due to injuries to players Thiago Motta, Edmílson and Gerard López. He completed a great season, being one of the main players that helped Barcelona win its 17th league title on 14 May 2005 after a 1–1 tie with Levante. After an injury in his left knee, he returned after a month to play against Milan in the first leg of the 2006 UEFA Champions League semi-final. Barcelona, playing away at the San Siro, won 1–0.
Márquez was present in the Champions League final on 17 May 2006 for Barcelona, in which they won the tournament over Arsenal. This achievement made him the first Mexican football player to ever win this competition, something Hugo Sánchez was not able to do during his time in La Liga with Real Madrid. After the 2006 World Cup, Barcelona extended his contract for the following 4 years to €38.5 million which will see his contract end in June 2010. Despite sustaining injuries, he was rumored to be up for sale at the end of the 2006–07 season. His future at Barça was up in the air until the 2007 Copa América, where Márquez regained his best form and was one of the best players of the competition, helping Mexico to an acceptable 3rd place.
In the 2007–08 season, Márquez got off to an excellent start, as he managed to form a solid partnership with new signing Gabriel Milito while captain Carles Puyol was out injured. However, constant injuries threw off his form. Márquez's success declined with the rest of the season leading Barcelona to end up in 3rd place after a miserable second half where injuries lead to his contribution being negligible. Even so, new coach Josep Guardiola continued to rely on his contributions; with the departure of Ronaldinho, Márquez has become the last original signing of the Rijkaard era to remain on the team. He was Guardiola's first choice at center back along with captain Puyol for the 2008–09 season. On 13 December 2008, Márquez played his 200th match for Barcelona in the clash against Real Madrid, which they won 2–0. He got injured on 28 April 2009, in a match against Chelsea in the semi-final. Márquez was told he needed surgery on his left knee, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.[2] Barcelona would go on to win a historic treble after winning the 2008–09 Champions League, in which Márquez was present but was sidelined. Márquez also received an offer from Fiorentina.[3] However, Márquez admits he would like to end his career at Barcelona and insists he is not concerned about the fact that his current contract runs out during the summer of 2010.[4] Márquez signed a new contract with Barca in November 2009 that will keep him at the club until 2012.[5] On 20 February 2010, he scored his first goal since his return against Racing Santander. Rafael officially left Barcelona after being released on a free transfer on 31 July 2010, he is currently without a club but has been consistently linked with a move to New York Red Bulls which would reunite him with Thierry Henry. [6]

International career

Since making his international debut on 5 February 1997 against Ecuador, but was not chosen for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad. Márquez has been one of the Mexican national football team's most important players. Márquez has played various tournament's with the Mexican team, winning the 1999 Confederations Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Márquez started all four of Mexico's games during the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, where he was given the Captain's Armband by then coach Javier Aguirre despite his young age of 23. Despite a strong performance during the group stage of the tournament, he received a red card during Mexico's second round 2–0 loss to the United States for a deliberate midair head butt on Cobi Jones in the final minutes of the match. Márquez was an integral part of Mexico's subsequent World Cup qualification campaign and was selected by Ricardo Lavolpe for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
During the 2006 World Cup, Márquez played in all of four of Mexico's opening round matches, and scored the lone Mexican goal in a 2–1 loss to Argentina in the second round off a Pável Pardo free kick which was headed to the far post by Mario Méndez, allowing an unmarked Márquez to strike the ball into the back of the net. The winner was scored by Maxi Rodriguez in extra time after Hernán Crespo had equalised for Argentina. Since Mexico's second round exit, he has spoken out about the need to encourage future Mexican football players to play in Europe to increase the competitiveness of the team.

Former Mexican coach Hugo Sánchez asked Márquez to participate in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2007 Copa América. Rafael joined up with the team Mexico for the Gold Cup's championship game against the United States after the conclusion of 2006–07 La Liga; Rafa started the match, a game that Mexico lost 2–1.
Marquez captained the Mexico national football team at the 2010 World Cup. Marquez scored Mexico's first goal against South Africa in the 79th minute against the hosts tieing the game one a piece. In Mexico's 2-0 win against France, Marquez played a tremendous ball to Javier Hernández Balcázar which put them up 1-0 in the game.

Personal life

He was married to Mexican actress Adriana Lavat, the couple married in December 2001 and had 2 children, Santiago Rafael and Rafaela, before separating in early 2007[7]. He is now dating Jaydy Michel.[8][9]

 

 

Honours

 
Monaco
2000
2000
2003
Barcelona
2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
2009
2005, 2006, 2009
2006, 2009
2009
2009
International
1999
2003
Individual
2000
2005
  • IFFHS 3rd Most Popular Player in the World: 1
2006
2008

Career statistics

As of 25 April 2010.[10]
Club performance League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Mexico League Cup North America Total
1996–97 Atlas Primera División 24 2 24 2
1997–98 20 1 20 1
1998–99 33 3 33 3
France League Coupe de France Europe Total
1999–2000 Monaco Ligue 1 23 3 2 0 6 0 31 3
2000–01 15 1 0 0 4 0 19 1
2001–02 19 0 3 0 22 0
2002–03 30 1 0 0 30 1
Spain League Copa del Rey Europe Total
2003–04 Barcelona La Liga 22 1 6 0 3 0 31 1
2004–05 34 3 1 0 6 0 41 3
2005–06 25 0 4 1 8 0 37 1
2006–07 21 1 7 0 7 0 35 1
2007–08 23 2 5 0 8 0 36 2
2008–09 23 1 4 1 10 1 37 3
2009–10 15 1 3 0 5 0 23 1
Total Mexico 77 6 77 6
France 87 5 5 0 10 0 102 5
Spain 163 9 30 2 47 1 240 12
Career Total 327 20 35 2 57 1 419 23

National team

As of 8 February 2008.[11]
All-Time National Performance
Nationality Year Games Played Minutes Played Goals Scored Yellow Card Red Card
Mexico 1997 1 29
1999 13 1177 1 2
2000 10 902 2 1
2001 12 1020 5 1
2002 7 557 1 1
2003 7 299 1 1
2004 8 676 1 3
2005 11 710 1 3 1
2006 6 554 1 2
2007 10 810 1 2
2008 6 540 1 2
2009 2 155 2 1
2010 6 496 1
Career totals 93 7925 11 23 4

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 5 February 1999 Hong Kong Stadium, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Egypt 1 – 0 3 – 0 1999 Carlsberg Cup
2. 13 February 2000 Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, United States Trinidad and Tobago 1 – 0 4 – 0 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup
3. 3 September 2000 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico Panama 5 – 1 7 – 1 2002 World Cup qualifier
4. 12 May 2002 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico Colombia 2 – 1 2 – 1 Friendly
5. 24 July 2003 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico Costa Rica 1 – 0 2 – 0 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup
6. 19 June 2004 Alamodome, San Antonio, United States Dominica 0 – 3 0 – 10 2006 World Cup qualifier
7. 7 September 2005 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico Panama 2 – 0 5 – 0 2006 World Cup qualifier
8. 24 June 2006 Zentralstadion, Leipzig, Germany Argentina 0 – 1 2 – 1 (a.e.t.) 2006 FIFA World Cup
9. 28 March 2007 McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, United States Ecuador 2 – 2 4 – 2 Friendly
10. 10 September 2008 Estadio Víctor Manuel Reyna, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico Canada 2 – 0 2 – 1 2010 World Cup qualifier
11. 11 June 2010 Soccer City, Johannesburg, South Africa South Africa 1 – 1 1 – 1 2010 FIFA World Cup

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