At 23 years of age, Rafa, an AS Monaco defender, played his first World Cup match in Japan and South Korea... against Croatia... and a 1-0 win. Twelve years on and the Mexico captain was against the same Croatia, looking for a place in the second round.
In Brazil, the FC León defender is playing in his fourth World Cup. The Kaiser de Michoacán has a habit of scoring crucial goals... In 2006, Rafa opened the scoring against Argentine in the last-16. Four years later he equalised against South Africa. On Monday, in Recife, his goal sent the Central Americans on their way to qualifying. A superb header saw him become the first Mexican ever to score in three World Cups (>>> SEE HIS GOAL), his 16th international goal.
At 35 years of age, with 123 caps, the former Ligue 1 central defender of the year (1999-2000), continues to rewrite history for his country. Intensely. A French champion in 2000, winner of the Coupe de la Ligue in 2003 with AS Monaco, on Sunday, Rafael Marquez and his teammates take on the Netherlands in the last-16!
"It's just like it was the very first time. I feel the same emotions as during my first World Cup. I live each and every match, as if it was the last. We have an exceptional squad. We are happy, and given the quality of the teams we are up against, it is a massive challenge. We have the chance to do something special here..." he told FIFA.com
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