Rafael Márquez

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For other people named Rafael Márquez, see Rafael Márquez (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with several people named Rafael Marquez.
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Márquez and the second or maternal family name is Álvarez.
Rafael Márquez
Rafael Márquez 2014.jpg
Márquez in 2014
Personal information
Full name Rafael Márquez Álvarez[1]
Date of birth (1979-02-13) 13 February 1979 (age 38)
Place of birth Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)[2]
Playing position Centre back
Defensive midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 4
Youth career
1992–1996 Atlas
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–1999 Atlas 77 (6)
1999–2003 Monaco 87 (5)
2003–2010 Barcelona 163 (9)
2010–2012 New York Red Bulls 44 (1)
2013–2014 León 40 (1)
2014–2015 Hellas Verona 35 (0)
2016– Atlas 35 (1)
National team
1999 Mexico U20 4 (2)
1997– Mexico 136 (18)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 February 2017.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 11 November 2016

Rafael Márquez Álvarez (Spanish: [rafaˈel ˈmarkes]; born 13 February 1979) is a Mexican footballer who plays for and captains both Mexican club Atlas and the Mexico national team. He can play as a central defender, sweeper, or defensive midfielder. He is widely regarded as the best defender in Mexico's history and one of the best Mexican players of all time.[3][4] Márquez has been described as elegant on the ball, dependable in the air and skillful coming out of defense. Although considered one of the best Mexican footballers of all time, Márquez is also seen as a controversial figure in the Mexican media for certain questionable decisions he has made on the field.[5][6][7]

Márquez began his career with Atlas in 1996, playing in over 70 games with the club before moving to France in 1999 with Monaco, where he won the Ligue 1 title. In 2003, Márquez transferred to Barcelona, becoming the first ever Mexican to play for the club. He would go on to play in over 200 games and win numerous championships. In 2006, he became the first Mexican player to win the UEFA Champions League when Barcelona defeated Arsenal in the Final. In 2010 Márquez joined the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. After being released from the club in 2012, he moved back to Mexico, this time to play for Club León.[8] After captaining the team to two back-to-back league titles in 2013 and 2014, Márquez transferred to Hellas Verona of the Italian Serie A.[9]

In 2014, Márquez became the first player to captain his national team in four consecutive editions of the FIFA World Cup, captaining the Mexico national team in the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament.[10] Márquez is the Mexican player with the most World Cup matches played with 16.[11]

Club career[edit]


Márquez began his career at Mexican club Atlas, for whom he debuted in 1996 at only 17 years of age. Márquez rose to prominence while with Atlas, making 77 appearances for the team and being runner-up in the league, losing the final against Toluca on penalties during the Verano 1999 tournament.


In 1999, Monaco purchased Márquez for €7 million. Monaco scouts had gone to see Pablo Contreras during the Copa América tournament that year. After seeing Márquez play, they signed both players. In his first season, Monaco became Ligue 1 champions. In 2003, Márquez was signed by Spanish La Liga giants Barcelona.


Márquez in 2008

In his first season with Barcelona, Márquez appeared 21 times, and the team came in second place in the 2003–04 La Liga. During his second season, he was moved from his natural position as a centre back to a defensive midfield role, due to injuries to players Thiago Motta, Edmílson and Gerard. That year, Barcelona won 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 championship over Arsenal. This achievement made him the first Mexican football player to win this competition, something Hugo Sánchez was not able to do during his time with Real Madrid.

After the 2006 World Cup, Barcelona extended Márquez's contract for the following four years to €38.5 million which would see his contract end in June 2010. Despite sustaining injuries, he was rumoured 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 Mexico finished in third place.

During the 2007–08 season, Márquez formed a partnership with new signing Gabriel Milito while captain Carles Puyol was out injured. Constant injuries, however, threw off his form. Márquez's success declined with the rest of the seaso, leading Barcelona to end up in third place in La Liga after a miserable second half where injuries lead to his contribution being negligible. Even so, new coach Pep Guardiola continued to rely on his contributions; with the departure of Ronaldinho, Márquez had become the last original signing of the Frank Rijkaard era to remain on the team.

Márquez with Barcelona in August 2009

Márquez was Guardiola's first-choice at centre 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 2008–09 Champions League semi-final. Márquez was told he needed surgery on his left knee, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.[12] Barcelona would go on to win a historic treble after winning the 2008–09 Champions League, though Márquez missed the final through injury.

Prior to the 2009–10 season, Márquez received an offer from Italian Serie A club Fiorentina.[13] Márquez, however, said he wanted to end his career at Barcelona.[14] Márquez eventually signed a new contract with Barça in November 2009 that would keep him at the club until 2012.[15] On 20 February 2010, he scored his first goal since his return against Racing Santander.

On 31 July 2010, Márquez was released from his contract by Barcelona.[16] During his time with the club, he played in 242 matches and scored 13 goals, making him the most-capped non-European player in the club's history and the eighth-most capped foreigner.[17] In his 12-year European career, Márquez appeared in 46 UEFA Champions League matches, which is the most by a Mexican or CONCACAF player.[18] At the time, Márquez was also one of two players from CONCACAF to play in a Champions League final, the other being Trinidad and Tobago's Dwight Yorke.[18]

New York Red Bulls[edit]

Márquez during his time with the New York Red Bulls

After being released by Barcelona and participating at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it was reported that Italian club Juventus was strongly linked to the Mexican defender, as a back-up for defender Leonardo Bonucci.[19]

On 1 August 2010, it was announced that Márquez had signed with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer on a three-and-a-half-year contract.[20] He was the club's third Designated Player and was unveiled to the media at Red Bull Arena on 3 August wearing the number 4 jersey and reuniting with former Barcelona teammate Thierry Henry. On 8 August, Márquez made his MLS debut against the Chicago Fire in a scoreless draw. On 21 August, Márquez scored his first goal, an astonishing shot with his right foot, for the Red Bulls in a 4–1 win at Toronto FC. On 21 October, Márquez started for the Red Bulls in a 2–0 victory over New England Revolution which clinched the regular season Eastern Conference title.[21]

New York released Márquez on 13 December 2012.[22] His stint in New York was heavily criticized by many fans and journalists for his constant injuries, suspensions and perceived lack of commitment to the fans and club.[4][23][24] Márquez later revealed in an interview with ESPN Deportes that going to play in the United States was "a bad decision" and called it the worst decision he ever made in his career. He said that he had misjudged the arc of his career, believing it was declining faster than it was, and that he regretted declining offers from various European clubs, including one from Italian side Juventus.[4][25]


Hours after being released by the New York Red Bulls, it was announced that Márquez signed with Mexican club León, returning to his home country after 13 years abroad.[26] It would not be until 5 October 2013 that Márquez scored his first goal for León in the match against Puebla, scoring a penalty kick in the 17th minute.[27]

On 15 December, León captured the Apertura 2013 title after defeating América 5–1 on aggregate.[28] Márquez, the club captain, played in both legs as he lifted his first league title in Mexico, more than 14 years after losing the final against Toluca when he played in Atlas.[29] The following tournament, Márquez helped León capture their second straight league title, becoming only the second team in history to win consecutive league titles in the short tournament era, the first being UNAM, who won the Clausura 2004 and Apertura 2004.[30]


On 7 August 2014, Hellas Verona of Serie A signed Márquez on undisclosed terms.[31] He stated that he had taken a pay cut to join the club as he was desperate to return to Europe.[32] He made his debut in the league on 31 August, starting as Verona played out a goalless draw at home against Atalanta.[33] The move made Márquez the first Mexican to play in five different countries.[34]

Return to Atlas[edit]

On 21 December 2015, it was announced that Márquez had officially transferred to Atlas, returning to the club he debuted with.[35] He was handed the number 4 shirt.

International career[edit]

Márquez made his debut with Mexico on 5 February 1997 in a friendly match against Ecuador. It was reported that his call-up was due to an error made by national team coach Bora Milutinovic, who wanted to call up fellow Atlas player César Márquez.[34] Márquez has since been a regular call-up for Mexico, although he was not chosen for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad. Márquez has played various tournaments with the Mexican team, winning the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Márquez started all four of Mexico's games during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, where he was given the captain's armband by then coach Javier Aguirre despite his young age of 23. He received a red card during Mexico's second round 2–0 loss to the United States for a deliberate mid-air head butt on Cobi Jones in the final minutes of the match.

Márquez was selected by Ricardo La Volpe for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Márquez played in all of three 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 Rodríguez in extra time after Hernán Crespo had equalised for Argentina.[36]

New Mexico coach Hugo Sánchez called-up Márquez to participate in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2007 Copa América. Márquez 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; he started the match, which Mexico lost 2–1.[37]

Márquez captained Mexico at the 2010 World Cup, scoring Mexico's goal in the tournament's opening match against South Africa which ended in a 1–1 draw.[38] In Mexico's 2–0 win against France, Márquez assisted Javier Hernández in Mexico's first goal.[39]

On 29 March 2011, Márquez became the eighth player in history to reach 100 caps for Mexico in a friendly match against Venezuela, where Mexico drew 1–1.[40]

Márquez defending Marcelo at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

During Mexico's opening match at the 2014 World Cup – a 1–0 win over Cameroon – Márquez became the first player to captain a team in four World Cups.[4][41] On 23 June, he scored the opening goal in the 3–1 win against Croatia, thus advancing to the knockout stage.[42] This goal made Márquez the first Mexican player to score in three consecutive World Cups, and the second Mexican player ever to score in three different World Cups after Cuauhtémoc Blanco.[43]

In May 2015, it was announced that Márquez was included in the 23-man squad that would participate in the Copa América tournament in Chile.[44] He was selected to start as captain in Mexico's opening fixture of the tournament, a 0–0 draw with Bolivia in Viña del Mar.[45]

Márquez also captained Mexico at 2016 Copa América Centenario, scoring in Mexico's opening game a 3–1 victory over Uruguay.

On 11 November 2016, in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, Márquez scored the winning goal for Mexico in the 89th minute to seal a 2–1 victory over the United States.


Throughout his career, Márquez has been criticized by many American analysts and journalists for his history of "throwing cheap shots" at American players.[4][23] In his home country of Mexico, he has also been criticized by the sports media for not exercising more self-restraint, and receiving red cards during crucial moments of some important matches.[5][6][7]

Outside football[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Márquez's father, Rafael Márquez Esqueda, was also a professional football player in Mexico. Rafael married Mexican actress Adriana Lavat in December 2001 and had two children, Santiago Rafael and Rafaela, before separating in 2007 and divorcing.[46] He is now married to Jaydy Michel, ex-wife of singer Alejandro Sanz.[47][48] His younger cousin, Luis Márquez, is also a professional footballer. Ironically, Luis was formed in Atlas' rival club, Guadalajara[49] and currently plays on loan at Coras.[50]


Márquez was featured in the music video for Shakira's song "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" to celebrate South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup.[51]

Márquez was featured on the North American cover of the FIFA 12 video game.[52]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 13 December 2015[53]
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
USA League MLS Cup Playoffs CONCACAF Total
2010 New York Red Bulls Major League Soccer 10 1 2 0 12 1
2011 19 0 2 0 21 0
2012 15 0 2 0 17 0
Mexico League Copa MX Copa Libertadores Total
2012–13 León Liga MX 13 0 1 0 14 1
2013–14 25 1 0 0 7 0 32 1
2014–15 2 0 2 0
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
2014–15 Hellas Verona Serie A 26 0 3 0 29 0
2015–16 9 0 1 0 10 0
Mexico 127 7 0 0 8 0 135 7
France 87 5 5 0 10 0 102 5
Spain 163 9 30 2 47 1 240 12
USA 44 1 6 0 50 1
Italy 35 0 5 0 39 0
Career total 457 22 46 2 65 1 568 25


As of 3 September 2016[54]
Mexico national team
Year Apps Goals
1997 1 0
1998 0 0
1999 12 1
2000 10 2
2001 12 0
2002 7 1
2003 4 1
2004 8 1
2005 9 1
2006 6 1
2007 9 1
2008 6 1
2009 2 0
2010 12 1
2011 11 1
2012 2 0
2013 4 1
2014 9 3
2015 5 0
2016 4 2
Total 133 18

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Mexico's goal tally first.
Goal 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. 16 August 1999 Xanthi FC Arena, Xanthi, Greece  Greece 1–1 2–3 Friendly
3. 13 February 2000 Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, United States  Trinidad and Tobago 1–0 4–0 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup
4. 3 September 2000 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  Panama 5–1 7–1 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier
5. 12 May 2002 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  Colombia 2–1 2–1 Friendly
6. 24 July 2003 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  Costa Rica 1–0 2–0 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup
7. 19 June 2004 Alamodome, San Antonio, United States  Dominica 3–0 10–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
8. 7 September 2005 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  Panama 2–0 5–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
9. 24 June 2006 Zentralstadion, Leipzig, Germany  Argentina 1–0 1–2 (a.e.t.) 2006 FIFA World Cup
10. 28 March 2007 McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, United States  Ecuador 2–2 4–2 Friendly
11. 10 September 2008 Estadio Víctor Manuel Reyna, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico  Canada 2–0 2–1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier
12. 11 June 2010 Soccer City, Johannesburg, South Africa  South Africa 1–1 1–1 2010 FIFA World Cup
13. 12 June 2011 Soldier Field, Chicago, United States  Costa Rica 1–0 4–1 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup
14. 13 November 2013 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico  New Zealand 5–0 5–1 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier
15. 2 April 2014 University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, United States  United States 1–2 2–2 Friendly
16. 23 June 2014 Arena Pernambuco, São Lourenço da Mata, Brazil  Croatia 1–0 3–1 2014 FIFA World Cup
17. 5 June 2016 University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, United States  Uruguay 2–1 3–1 Copa América Centenario
18. 11 November 2016 Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, United States  United States 2–1 2–1 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier



New York Red Bulls[55]





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External links[edit]