Of all the Mexican players who have succeeded in Europe, perhaps the most crucial export is coach Javier Aguirre.
The coach that has saved the Mexican national team from premature World Cup qualifying elimination on a couple occasions is boosting the national game again, whether his doubters appreciate it or not.
Javier Aguirre is back to raise the Mexican flag in Spain, this time with Espanyol. His return at the close of this year has already been an indisputable boon for Mexican soccer, since Aguirre’s unwavering commitment to Mexican soccer means he takes the Mexican style and way of doing things wherever he goes on the peninsula.
Aguirre’s influence runs so deep in Spain that you could make the argument that he’s the most important Mexican export of the century. While players come and go, over the years, Aguirre has been perhaps the most stable and useful ambassador for the Mexican game in Europe, at the very least since Hugo Sanchez.
But the longevity which Sanchez never did achieve as a coach, Aguirre has obtained in finding success with Osasuna and Atletico Madrid.
In a country where foreign coaches are seldom the norm, much less those from countries outside Europe, Aguirre has been accepted into the La Liga circle as a viable candidate for any job.
Along the way, El Vasco has brought prestige and appreciation to the Mexican side of things, going about his business in Spain in a distinctly Mexican fashion, from press conferences to lineups, and including Mexican players and staff as often as possible.
His tenure at Espanyol has kicked off in the just that way, with El Vasco bringing in Alfredo Tena to help him on the bench. A result at Real Madrid at the weekend served to reinforce the job Aguirre has already done with the Barcelona club, which looks closer to safety than it has in some time under its new skipper.
Aguirre has also begun the search for Mexican players who might be able to help out at the struggling but historic franchise. Oribe Peralta and Hugo Ayala have been named as candidates to join Hector Moreno with the Pericos, further enhancing the Mexican accent in La Liga.
Of course he’s had his failings as well. Aguirre will be sure to choose his Mexican talent in Barcelona carefully, after Efrain Juarez and Pablo Barrera washed out in Zaragoza, helping lead to the downfall of the club and the end of the Mexican’s tenure as coach there.
But should a pair of players more join Spain’s top flight under Aguirre’s unwavering hand, Mexico’s representation in Spain would be beginning to come into line with what is comparatively justifiable given the country’s talent level and the relative amount of players from other Latin American countries plying their trades in Spain.
If and when that happens, much of the credit for getting over that hurdle will be due to Aguirre, who deserves recognition as not only one of Mexico’s best-ever coaches, but also as among Mexico’s most important soccer exports of all time.
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