Rafael Márquez Álvarez is a Mexican former footballer and currently the youth coach (Cadete A) of Spanish Tercera División club Alcalá. Nicknamed El Káiser, Márquez is regarded as the best defender in Mexico’s history and one of the best Mexican players of all time. He played as a central defender, sweeper, or defensive midfielder. 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 FC Barcelona, becoming the first ever Mexican to represent the club. He would go on to play in over 200 games during seven seasons with the Blaugrana, 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, captaining the team to back-to-back Liga MX titles in 2013 and 2014. Márquez then transferred to Hellas Verona of the Italian Serie A. He returned to boyhood club Atlas in 2015, and announced his retirement from football in April 2018. Márquez is the third most-capped player in the history of the Mexico national team, earning 147 caps throughout his career. In 2018, he became only the third player to play for his national team in five consecutive editions of the FIFA World Cup, alongside compatriot Antonio Carbajal, appearing in the 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 editions of the tournament. He is also the Mexican player with the most World Cup matches played with 19. With the national team, Márquez won the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the 2003 and 2011 editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
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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 their 2–0 win against Real Madrid. On 28 April 2009, during Barcelona’s 2008–09 Champions League semi-final match against Chelsea, Márquez sustained a knee injury which required surgery, meaning he would miss the remainder of the season. Barcelona would go on to complete a historic treble after winning the Champions League final against Manchester United.
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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 Milutinović, who wanted to call up fellow Atlas player César Márquez. Márquez became a regular call-up for Mexico, although he was not chosen for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad. Márquez played various tournaments with the national team, winning the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup and losing to Canada at 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. 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. 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. In Mexico’s 2–0 win against France, Márquez assisted Javier Hernández in Mexico’s first goal. 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. 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. On 23 June, he scored the opening goal in the 3–1 win against Croatia, thus advancing to the knockout stage. 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 World Cups after Cuauhtémoc Blanco. In May 2015, it was announced Márquez was included in the 23-man squad that would participate in the Copa América tournament in Chile. 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. The following year, Márquez captained Mexico at the Copa América Centenario, scoring in their 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. Appearing in Mexico’s second group-stage match against New Zealand at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, Márquez – at 38 years and four months – became the second-oldest player to appear in a match in Confederations Cup history. He was also making his first appearance at the tournament since 2005, setting new record for most years between consecutive matches with twelve. On 4 June 2018, Marquez was named in Mexico’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup. This meant he would travel to his fifth World Cup finals, becoming only the fourth player in history to do so, alongside German Lothar Matthäus, Italian Gianluigi Buffon and fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal. He was substituted in for Andrés Guardado at the 74th minute in Mexico’s 1–0 win over defending-champions Germany, and became the third man in history to play at a fifth World Cup. On 2 July, in Mexico’s round of 16 match against Brazil, Márquez became the first player ever to play as a captain in five World Cups and was substituted off at half-time, marking his last appearance as a professional.
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This shirt was worn by Rafael Márquez during the season 2014/2015. Marquez joined Hellas Verona on 7 August 2014, Hellas Verona on undisclosed terms. He stated that he had taken a pay cut to join the club as he was desperate to return to Europe. He made his debut in the league on 31 August, starting as Verona played out a goalless draw at home against Atalanta. After 35 presences with the Italian club, on 21 December 2015, it was announced that Márquez had officially transferred to Atlas, returning to the club he debuted with. He was handed the number 4 shirt.