Six minutes after Marco Fabian scored his first goal for Chivas in 2008, the now-24-year-old was substituted out for Javier Hernandez. Back then the young Fabian was starting ahead of current Manchester United player Chicharito.
The early days of Fabian’s career were whirlwind times, with a goal in the Copa Libertadores final in 2010 followed by his real breakout Apertura 2010 and Clausura 2011 seasons, in which the versatile forward netted 15 goals in 29 starts for Chivas.
Fabian first made his mark outside of Mexico with two goals of exquisite class against Barcelona in Aug. 2011 in a friendly in Miami, but it was in Mexico’s Olympic run that Fabian really became recognized as a player going places.
The Guadalajara was the highest goalscorer in the pre-Olympic Toulon tournament, scoring seven times in five games and went on to have a good Olympics, a tournament he described as a “very important window” to show his talent off to European clubs.
But while there was interest from the Old Continent, no firm offer was immediately forthcoming.
“There were approaches from a couple of German clubs – one of them (Bayer) Leverkusen - but nothing official, nothing concrete,” recalls Guadalajara-based journalist Cesar Huerta, who covers the day-to-day on-goings at Chivas for respected Mexican daily El Universal.
If European clubs were looking for Fabian to show some consistency with Chivas before making a definitive move, they would’ve been disappointed. The player struggled under the weight of a flailing team on his shoulders.
As the pressure mounted, Fabian failed to recapture his old form.
Stories of his off-field shenanigans, relationships and partying began to surface regularly in the local press and the party-boy image became so synonymous with Fabian that he was on the brink last August of an unlikely move to Qatar.
Fabian did eventually leave Chivas in the winter after the club and player came to the consensus that moving on was the best thing both for the institution and for his career.
The destination of Cruz Azul – like Chivas one of Mexico’s ‘big four’ – was a surprise, with the one-year loan deal including a buyout clause.
So far, it has worked out for Fabian, who has been an important figure in the team’s rise to first place in the Liga MX this season.
Revitalized, Fabian scored a contender for goal of the tournament on Feb. 15 against Puebla, with just seconds of the game remaining at the score tied at 0-0. It was the kind of stroke of genius that made Fabian’s name and the change of environment appears to have suited him well.
“The pressure on him has been relieved, he has a coach (Luis Fernando Tena) who knows him and is at a club that is only concerned with how he performs on the field,” explained Huerta.
But not everyone has been impressed.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera told Fabian last month that he still has a long way to get into El Tri’s squad for the World Cup.
“I’ve followed Marco for a while, since he was at Chivas, and I don’t think he’s reached the same level,” said Herrera in a Feb. 26 press conference.
That statement may or may not have been a mind game by Herrera to encourage Fabian to keep up his form and not fall victim to the inconsistency that has plagued his career of late.
Certainly, the player himself isn’t giving up on attending the World Cup this summer.
“I continue to believe I can be there,” Fabian said in a press conference last week. “Until the list is out I will keep working for it.”
It does seem to be an uphill struggle for Fabian at present, with Carlos Pena, Hector Herrera, Javier Aquino, Isaac Brizuela, Luis Montes and Andres Guardado all ahead of him in the mix for attacking midfield positions. But, considering the rollercoaster ride his career has been to date, you wouldn’t rule it out just yet.