Football Features

Where are they now? Mexico’s Olympic gold medallists from London 2012

By Ben Green

Published: 13:05, 4 April 2019 | Updated: 11:29, 28 October 2020

Over the years the Olympic Games have been graced by some of the finest footballing talent the sport has to offer – and London 2012 was no exception.

As the sporting world converged on the capital, football too played its part, with stadiums up and down the country playing host to nations from across the globe.

Indeed the quadrennial competition has seen some great names collect the coveted Gold Medal; from Neymar in Rio de Janeiro, Lionel Messi in Beijing, Samuel Eto’o in Sydney to Jay-Jay Okocha in Atlanta and Pep Guardiola in Barcelona.

It may not be considered the pinnacle of a career, with the World Cup and Champions League widely-regarded as the zenith, but not many players can say they boast a Gold Medal in their trophy cabinets.

Every four years the U23 tournament showcases some of the most promising starlets in the game, and seven years ago in London the world watched on in awe as Mexico took the ultimate prize, with some prodigiously-gifted talent on display.

But how are Luis Fernando Tena’s men getting on today and how have their careers unfolded in the aftermath of that glorious 2-1 win over Brazil at Wembley?

Starting XI

Jose Corona

Age: 38

Position: Goalkeeper

Current club: Cruz Azul

Corona has never plied his trade outside of Mexico, first coming through the ranks with boyhood club Atlas before moving across to Tecos UAG in 2004, where he stayed for five years until pitching up at current club Cruz Azul.

The seasoned shot-stopper was a Los Cementeros player during the Olympic Games – where he captained the nation as one of the three over-aged players for the tournament – and he remains at the Estadio Azteca to this day.

 Israel Jimenez

Age: 29

Position: Right-back

Current club: UANL

Jimenez is the very definition of a one-club man having never left UANL in Mexico, apart from a brief on-loan sojourn to Tijuana in 2014.

He scored a scintillating free-kick against Trinidad and Tobago on his tournament debut and was tasked with keeping Neymar quiet in the final; it’s safe to say his career hasn’t quite hit those scintillating heights post-London 2012.

Carlos Salcido

Age: 38

Position: Centre-back

Current club: Veracruz

A Mexican stalwart and legend, Salcido began his career with Guadalajara, but truly made a name for himself with PSV, and less so during a mixed spell with Fulham between 2010 and 2012.

Another of the three over-aged players to play in the tournament, Salcido has won the CONCACAF Gold Cup with El Tri in 2011, amassed over 100 caps, and was once tipped to join Liverpool in 2010. Since leaving Craven Cottage he has returned to Mexico where he currently turns out for Veracruz.

Hiram Mier

Age: 29

Position: Centre-back

Current club: Guadalajara

Mier, like many of his contemporaries, is another who has never left the comforts of his homeland, playing for Monterrey, Queretaro and currently Guadalajara across his career.

Even if his career hasn’t quite hit the glamorous heights of European football, his international career has, with the defender winning the Pan American Games, the Toulon Tournament, an Olympic Gold Medal and the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the national team.

Darvin Chavez

Age: 29

Position: Left-back

Current club: FF Jaro

Chavez had spent his entire career in Mexico with Veracruz, Monterrey and Atlas but took the plunge – where so many of his former teammates didn’t – and packed his bags for Finland of all places where he currently plays for FF Jaro in Jakobstad.

Diego Reyes

Age: 26

Position: Centre-back

Current club: Leganes

At 19, Reyes was the youngest member of the squad and it wouldn’t take long before his eye-catching performances for America yielded a move to Porto.

From there the Mexican defender enjoyed loan spells in La Liga with Real Sociedad and Espanyol before Fenerbahce prised him away in 2018 – he has since returned to Spain, again on loan, this time with Leganes.

Hector Herrera

Age: 28

Position: Centre-midfield

Current club: Porto

After impressing with Pachuca, Porto again looked to plunder the Mexican ranks and picked up the robust central midfielder. And what a move it proved to be; the Dragoes are once again enjoying the fruits of their shrewd scouting system as Herrera is an integral part of their starting XI.

His influential performances from the heart of the midfield have helped Porto reach the Champions League quarter-finals this year where they face off against Liverpool next week.

Javier Aquino

Age: 29

Position: Winger

Current club: UANL

Having started with Cruz Azul, the diminutive winger was soon signed by Villarreal in 2013, but Aquino was unable to truly prove his worth with the Yellow Submarines and has since returned to Mexico; joining teammate Israel Jimenez at UANL.

Jorge Enriquez

Age: 28

Position: Centre-midfield

Current club: Free agent

Enriquez endured a peripatetic odyssey across Mexican football after Guadalajara loaned him out to four separate clubs, and after leaving Las Chivas last summer he joined Omonia, but he has since left the Cypriot outfit and is now a free agent.

Marco Fabian

Age: 29

Position: Centre-midfield

Current club: Philadelphia Union

After leaving Mexico to join Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016, Fabian clinched the highly-reputable domestic German cup, DFB-Pokal, at the expense of Bayern Munich last season.

Unfortunately Fabian could only muster a place on the bench and has since left for Philadelphia Union.

Oribe Peralta

Age: 35

Position: Striker

Current club: America

Scorer of both goals in the final, Peralta was Mexico’s highest goalscorer across the tournament with four goals, and London 2012’s third-best goalscorer.

The veteran forward is a hero in Central America and another who has never left the country of his birth, playing for Morelia, Leon, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Santos Laguna, Chiapas and currently America across a 16-year playing career.

Substitutes

Miguel Ponce

Age: 29

Position: Winger

Current club: Guadalajara

Apart from a loan spell with Toluca and Necaxa respectively Ponce has stayed loyal to Guadalajara across his career.

Nestor Vidrio

Age: 30

Position: Defender

Current club: Puebla

Vidrio has played for the formidable Mexican trident of Atlas, Guadalajara and Pachuca but now spends his playing days on-loan with some of the lesser known clubs in the country, most recently with Puebla.

Raul Jimenez

Age: 27

Position: Striker

Current club: Wolves

After leaving America in 2014, Jimenez joined Spanish giants Atletico Madrid, but after just one season at the then-Vicente Calderon Stadium, he joined Benfica.

At the Estadio da Luz the Mexican marksman was a regular fixture but never managed to net double league figures; a feat he hasn’t managed since his Liga MX days, that is until he turned up in the West Midlands at the start of the season.

For Wolves this term Jimenez has forged one of the Premier League’s most devastating strike partnerships with Diogo Jota. The 27-year-old has proven a revelation at the Molineux with 15 goals as Nuno Espirito Santo’s men look to cinch European football.

Unused substitutes

Giovani dos Santos

Age: 29

Position: Attacking midfielder

Current club: Free agent

Tipped as the next big star emerging from La Masia’s esteemed ranks, Dos Santos was once seen as the heir to Ronaldinho’s throne at Barcelona.

It didn’t quite work out for the prodigiously gifted Mexican winger in Catalonia, and Spurs thought they got their hands on an absolute gem when they signed him in 2008.

But again Dos Santos failed to live up to ridiculous heights of expectation, and he departed the north London cub without making an impression. He has since turned out for Mallorca and Villarreal, again threatening to finally shine through, but failing to produce world-class moments on a consistent basis.

A trip across the Atlantic to LA Galaxy soon followed in 2015, but he is now a free agent after the club exercised its one off-season buyout of a guaranteed contract, releasing the Mexican from his deal.

Javier Cortes

Age: 29

Position: Attacking midfielder

Current club: Santos Laguna

Cortes amassed over 200 appearances for UNAM in the Mexican league before swapping his boyhood club for Santos Laguna in 2017.

Nestor Araujo

Age: 27

Position: Centre-back

Current club: Celta

After leaving Santos Laguna in 2018 Araujo joined Celta in La Liga where he has played 25 times this season.

Jose Antonio Rodriguez

Age: 26

Position: Goalkeeper

Current club: BUAP

At 26, Rodriguez has never left Guadalajara but has failed to hold down a regular starting berth for the club and is currently on-loan with BUAP.

Brazil

Mexico were huge underdogs and their victory proved to be a shock given the bucket load of talent Brazil boasted in their side.

Brazil team: Gabriel, Rafael (Lucas 85), Thiago Silva (c), Juan Jesus, Sandro (Alexandre Pato 71), Marcelo, Romulo, Leandro Damiao, Oscar, Neymar, Alex Sandro (Hulk 32).

Subs not used: Bruno Uvini, Danilo, Ganso, Neto.

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