Andres Guardado: The “dinosaur” desperate to break Mexico’s “Quinto Partido” curse

Andres Guardado may not get the recognition he thinks he deserves at home, but the 36-year-old is determined to make history at Qatar 2022.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will join an exclusive club in Qatar this month, but the other members of this group will receive a lesser-known name with more enthusiasm.

If he meets Poland in the opening game, midfielder Andres Guardado will become the third Mexican to appear in five World Cups, alongside Antonio Carbajal and Rafa Marquez.

And while he never reached the heights of global megastars Messi and Ronaldo, Guardado knows he has the respect of former teammates like Marquez and fans across Mexico but around the world.

What sets Guardado apart from so many Mexican players of his generation is that he resisted the temptation to take the easy route forward and return to North America to bask in the money and fame without the daily work required to continue at the highest level of Europe club sports.

Rather than accept offers from countless Major League Soccer teams, or even return to his beloved Atlas (where Marquez ended his playing career after a stint with the New York Red Bulls and two Liga MX titles with Leon), Guardado has moved on and is about to , to become Mexico’s all-time most capped player – and all without returning to Liga MX since his departure in 2007.

“Maybe it’s normal because I’ve played my whole career in Europe, but in Europe I’m more respected by managers, teammates and the press,” he said star+ this month.

“I think they really appreciate what I’ve done here and that I’m still playing here while in Mexico I’m seen as a dinosaur.”

The asteroid could be heading towards the 36-year-old, who aims to contest his final World Championship and is still in search of the elusive fifth partido no Mexican team has ever made it on foreign soil.

But after joining his compatriots as well as Ronaldo, Messi, Lothar Matthäus and Gianluigi Buffon in the “five world championships” club, there’s no shame if Guardado wants to return to Guadalajara or enjoy a few cocktails by the sea in Miami or Los Angeles.

Except, it doesn’t feel like Guardado is wired that way.

Andres Guardado Mexico 2022 GFXGetty/TOR

A mainstay at Deportivo La Coruna in his first stop since leaving Mexico, he later became a popular figure at PSV – the club that nearly took him to Europe before the Spanish club’s offer arrived and trumped it.

Guardado then signed for Betis in 2017 amid interest from MLS squads. With North American teams continuing to court him, Guardado extended his stay at Seville this season.

Some misguided Mexico fans may mistake himself for a dinosaur, but Guardado may have more in common with a chameleon that can change color depending on what a team needs.

Once an attacking midfielder, Guardado has played at full-back and full-back and is now at his best as a two-way midfielder.

Those moves caught the attention of Roma manager Jose Mourinho as he scouted Betis ahead of the clubs’ encounters in this year’s Europa League group stage.

“He is very good, has a lot of experience. Maybe, like all of us, he changed over time and became more of an outside player who relied on his speed. Today he is more intellectually in the midfield,” said Mourinho Fox sports in October. “He’s a player with a lot of quality.”

His own managers have certainly enjoyed that versatility, the balance he is able to offer during games and now the veteran voice he brings to the dressing room.

At his first World Cup in Germany in 2006, he was still finding himself as a player and as a person.

A surprise start in the quarter-finals against Argentina separates Guardado from team-mate Guillermo Ochoa, who is also coming to his fifth World Cup but did not play under coach Ricardo La Volpe.

Guardado called the 66 minutes he played against Argentina “a catapult where practically nobody knew me and I introduced myself to the world”.

Both he and the current Club America goalkeeper took lessons from Mexican legends like Marquez, Pavel Pardo, Carlos Salcido and Oswaldo Sanchez.

Andres Guardado Mexico World Cup 2006 GFXGetty/TOR

“It was like going on vacation with my idols. I was like a sponge trying to learn from everyone,” Guardado said recently AP.

“I only played one game but what I experienced was something I didn’t expect at that point in my life.”

Now he’s one of those greats, overtaking Marquez, Claudio Suarez and Pardo on his way to becoming the all-time record player for the national team. However, he risks leaving a national team legacy characterized by not breaking through in the greatest moments.

El Tri hasn’t made it to the round of 16 since 1986, when Mexico’s colorful stadiums hosted the World Cup.

Guardado says it will be one last tournament and he will be desperate to do what none of his idols have been able to do and take Mexico to the quarters.

Guardado was among the teams that suffered back-to-back painful losses in the first knockout game.

“They all hurt, but the game against Holland hurt me the most, against Argentina 2006 it hurt too and it’s sad, not only because we lost the game against Brazil but also the one we lost against Sweden”, in the 2018 group stage that would have put Mexico in a more accessible knockout game rather than facing the former world champions.

Judging from their recent form, it doesn’t look like the Mexican team will be the closest to break the winning streak and reach the quarterfinals.

Andres Guardado Raul Jimenez Mexico GFXGetty/TOR

In fact, many pundits expect Guardado’s stint with the national team to end with a whimper instead of a roar as Mexico are set to play in a strong group with Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

However, Guardado believes the outside doubt could work in Mexico’s favor and would help the team remain humble and focused on their goal rather than talking a big game and not delivering like the team has done in previous tournaments Has.

And he insists he wouldn’t be continuing at the highest level if he didn’t have a desire to help El Tri reach the quarterfinals and beyond.

“I play the World Cup and my participation with the national team ends,” he said Rondo Magazine. “This is my last dream.

“I don’t see it as a wish to play five World Cups, but rather as my last chance to get something for my national team.

“A lot of people think I want the record and no. I’m still in Spain because after so many years I want to leave the national team in peace because I think I gave everything.

“I want to go and be an important part of helping the team achieve that goal.”

Motivated to know more about what he can bring to his team and his country, Guardado will surely be given a warm welcome to this exclusive club, but it will mean little if his World Cup is once again abandoned without a fifth game.