Rafael Marquez
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Copa América Stars: Rafael Márquez (Mexico)

Copa América Stars: Rafael Márquez (Mexico)

Internationals
Publish on 06/11 at 21:00 - E. RAZO

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As the 2024 Copa América draws closer, we’re focusing on a player from each of the 16 participating countries. In this latest article of the series, we’ll concentrate on former AS Monaco defender Rafael Márquez.

Márquez came through Atlas' youth system and played for the Liga MX team from 1996 to 1999, with the defender making 130 appearances across all competitions for the Mexican club.

 

After playing the 1999 Copa América with Mexico in Paraguay, Márquez noted in a 2022 interview with TUDN's Antonio de Valdés that his move to Monaco was a lucky one, considering the club's officials were there to scout another player at the tournament.

 

"We thought we'd just be there [at the 1999 Copa América] to help [the team] and fill in because all the players were big names... [Mexico manager] Manuel Lapuente considers me to play the first match against Chile, who at that time had Iván Zamorano and Marcelo Salas, a great duo. And well, I did a good job, and at the end of that match, it so happened that people from Monaco went to see Pablo Contreras, also a Chilean center-back, who played that match."

 

"So, after the game, they investigated where the Mexican team's hotel was, and they all approached me directly and asked, 'Hey, we're interested in you. Would you like to play for Monaco?' And I said, 'Monaco? Where is Monaco?' And I didn't know; I mean, I was still ignorant at that time. But it was very clear that I wanted to go play in Europe."

Márquez moved to Monaco in 1999 and made 114 appearances across all competitions for the club. During his five years with Les Rouge et Blanc, the Mexican center-back won the Ligue 1 title in the 1999-00 season and the Coupe de la Ligue in the 2002-03 season. Along with the success on the pitch, Márquez recalled his connection with the people from the area.

 

"I connected with folks from restaurants, shops, and the outskirts of Monaco. It was a lovely experience because I even got to meet the royal family... So, culturally, I got to mingle, learn, and pick up other languages like Italian, English, and Catalan. Football has truly enriched my life in so many ways."

 

While playing with the Mexican national team, Márquez participated in six Copa América tournaments. For the 2024 edition, Mexico will be in Group B alongside Ecuador, Jamaica, and Venezuela. El Tri will kick off their participation in the tournament on June 22nd against Jamaica at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

 

Photo courtesy of FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP via Getty Images

 

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