“Disfrútenme cabrones, que ya se les acabó.” With these words, Cuauhtémoc Blanco announced his retirement to his teammates – or at least, that’s how he told the press it went down.
Born in Tepito, a Mexico City neighborhood known for its heavy crime, and gritty, authentic spirit, star player Blanco brought his beloved “Barrio Bravo” onto the pitch until the very end. But the 42-year-old Mexican legend won’t fade from the limelight if he has his say – he plans to jump into the world of politics, and is running for Mayor of Cuernavaca in elections that are less than two months away.
Love him or hate him, Cuauhtémoc has a place in the memory of every Mexican fan. And on the heels of his retirement announcement, we took a trip down memory lane and to revisit some of the most memorable moments of his career.
Cuauhtémoc Blanco made his professional debut at 19 years-old, during the 1992-1993 season. He cemented himself as a starter with the arrival of renowned Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker. After only twenty-five games in the professional division, he was called up to the national team, and became the face and symbol for Club América. Blanco’s success would lead to a love-hate relationship with the club team. He had loved América since childhood, and the fans loved him, but his controversial and outspoken personality often led to problems with the team’s officials. Over the course of his career, Blanco would go on to leave and return to América several times, passing through Necaxa, Real Valladolid, and Veracruz in the process. Many hoped that he would retire an América player, but the team didn’t make any big efforts to bring him back.
This year the team offered to have a match in his honor, but the striker declined, stating, “They wanted to give me some sort of plaque of recognition.”
When he did it Doggy Style
After scoring a penalty kick against Celaya during a 1999 match, Blanco pretended to be a dog peeing on goalkeeper Félix Fernández’ goal box.
His beef with Ricardo Lavolpe
Argentine Ricardo Lavolpe didn’t get along with Blanco during his time as América’s head coach, and he eventually went back to Atlas. The tense relationship between the two was made more than public when, after scoring two goals in a game against Lavolpe’s new team, Cuahtemoc celebrated by laying down placidly and smiling in front of his former coach. Lavolpe would go on to leave him off the Mexican National Team for the 2006 World Cup. Cuauhtémoc responded by appearing in a TV commercial that playfully mentioned his exclusion from the squad.
The Samba that got him suspended
After scoring a goal against Sao Caetano at the Copa Libertadores, Blanco began to dance amongst the Brazilian team’s defenders. At the end of the match, players from both teams engaged in a field brawl. Conmebol wound up blaming Cuauhtémoc for the incident and suspended him from any of their competitions for a year.
During Cuauhtémoc’s first World Cup game, he amazed the world by jumping –with the ball – between two South Korean defenders. The move became known as the Cuahtémiña.
His free kick against Real Madrid
Although Cuauhtémoc Blanco struggled to gain the trust of Valladolid’s head coach, he was able to score a goal that would be remembered for years to come. In the last minutes of a game against Real Madrid, Cuauhtémoc came off the bench to shoot a free kick that would tie the game.
His devastating injury
At the peak of his career, Blanco was called to the national team to play an unimportant game against Trinidad y Tobago. Due to a reckless action from a Trinidadian defender, Blanco was injured and forced to stay off the fields for six months.
His relationship with the press
Always polemical, Cuauhtémoc was caught on camera slapping well-known Mexican sports commentator David Faitelson from behind.
Love Life and Television
Cuauhtémoc was in the spotlight on and off the field. He was romantically involved with several Mexican actresses and TV personalities such as Galilea Montijo, Rossana Nájera, Sandra Montoya, Marisol González, and Lourdes Munguía. Blanco also acted in a Mexican telenovela and had his own TV show called La Hora de Cuauhtémoc (Cuauhtémoc’s Hour).
The Hunchback of Tepito
Unlike the impressive physique that is common for many players today (think CR7), Cuauhtémoc’s body was often the topic of mockery. He appears to have a hunchback, but instead of being bothered by jokes, he embraced it and often gave passes using his joroba and butt in the process. These passes would become known as Jorobiña and Nalguiña.
His goal against Belgium
Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored the tying goal in a very close game against Belgium during the 1998 World Cup. After trailing by two goals in the first half, Mexico came back to tie the game and eventually qualify for the next round. Cuauhtémoc Blanco’s goal is not only remembered for its importance, but for the unusual manner in which he scored it, by throwing his whole body forward – feet first – in order to reach a pass by Ramón Ramírez.
That time he punched Felipe Robles
Cuauhtémoc Blanco further stirred up the América-Chivas rivalry by punching Chivas’ Felipe Robles, still on the field, after the game had ended.
Confederations Cup Champions
Cuauhtémoc led Mexico to a 4-2 victory against Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. Blanco scored a great goal in the last minutes of the game to seal the victory.
His MLS All-Stars Performance
Despite playing alongside David Beckham and USA favorite Landon Donovan, it was Cuahtémoc Blanco who would rise as a star in the MLS All-Star vs West Ham United game. Blanco gave a back-heel assist and scored a great goal during a game that his team went on to win 3-2.
His 2010 comeback
In 2010, at 37 years-old, Cuauhtémoc seemed like a long-shot for the Mexican National Team. But El Vasco Aguirre’s return as head coach meant that El Temo would become the third-oldest Mexican player to ever play in a World Cup. He went on to score a penalty kick against France and become the first ever Mexican player to score in three different World Cups.
The Last Ovation
Although he declined the formal recognition from América’s officials, Blanco received a standing ovation by América’s fans earlier this year when Puebla played against América.