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Mexican Star Guillermo Ochoa is a Living Legend

Hispanic Heritage Month: Heading into his fifth World Cup, Ochoa remains a wall in goal.

Very few players remain relevant over time, especially if we are talking about decades. In Mexico, Guillermo Ochoa is undoubtedly a legend.

Why do I consider "Memo" an Aztec soccer legend? Well, there are plenty of reasons, and in this article I will explain why the Jalisco-born player is a special case for Mexico.

What he did in Europe

After an extraordinary stint with América, it was time to cross the ocean and go play in Europe. Against all odds and knowing what Ochoa represented for Mexican soccer, the goalkeeper left for the modest French team Ajaccio, a club with a very small team whose time in the first division was counted.

Playing for such a small club, compared to bigger sides such as PSG, Marseille, and Monaco, Ajaccio took countless shots at goal in every game. Fortunately, there was Ochoa to stop them, and it was thanks to him that the team managed to stay in the top flight for two seasons before being relegated for his third and final campaign in France.

Then in Spain, Ochoa was slow to make a place for himself at Malaga, where Kameni, a respected goalkeeper in the tournament, also played. Later, at Granada, he was the team's undisputed starter.

After two seasons with Standard Liege in Belgium, Ochoa returned to his country. The Mexican played more than 200 games in Europe, and honestly, I doubt any other Aztec goalkeeper has achieved such an accomplishment. Beyond the numbers, Ochoa's saves were always in the weekly highlights reels.

Miraculous performances in World Cups

The Jalisco native was called to the World Cups in 2006 and 2010, but he was not considered the first choice in goal.

In 2014 would come the moment when "Memo" would become known on the highest stage of international soccer, for his miraculous interventions that allowed Mexico to compete and even win against tough rivals.

In the second match of that tournament, against hosts and five-time world champions Brazil, Ochoa had a memorable game and was later named the best player of the match. In a heart-stopping 0-0 draw, Ochoa stopped absolutely everything. Neymar and company tried to score in every way, and there was Ochoa to keep a clean sheet, allowing Mexico to earn a valuable draw.

The Mexican goalkeeper also had very good performances against Samuel Eto'o's Cameroon and Luka Modric's Croatia.

In the round of 16, Ochoa again had an outstanding performance while keeping Mexico's 1-0 victory, however, the Dutch team managed to take the win, thanks to a questionable penalty kick. Despite the defeat, the Mexican goalkeeper was named man of the match for the second time in the tournament, and he did so against two semifinalists from that edition.

During the following World Cup in Russia, Ochoa again impressed against an international juggernaut, making nine saves against reigning champions Germany to give Mexico a 1-0 win. The Aztec played four games and stopped 25 shots, more than any other goalkeeper in the tournament and only behind world star Thibaut Courtois, who managed to stop 27 attempts.

Longevity

At the age of 20, Ochoa proved with America that he was destined for success, helping his team win the Clausura Tournament. From then on, "Memo" was known to be special.

As the years go by, Ochoa remains relevant, both at club and national team level, where he often wears the captain's armband. With 130 games for Mexico, "Memo" is on the verge of surpassing the legendary Jorge Campos to become the fifth player with the most appearances in the history of 'El Tri'.

Ochoa will soon be attending his fifth World Cup, a milestone that very few players have been able to reach, proving that he is still relevant. His great performances on the field for almost 20 years as a professional are proof of a successful and long-lived career.

Is Ochoa the best Mexican goalkeeper of all time? is a difficult question when there are good ones like Jorge Campos, Oswaldo Sanchez, and Oscar Perez, but he can easily be considered the best.