(CNN Spanish) — Guillermo Ochoa was 21 years old when he was selected to go to his first World Cup. He was then called up as substitute goalkeeper for Germany 2006. Now, at 37 years old, the Mexican is playing his fifth World Cup in Qatar as a consolidated goalkeeper and as one of the most outstanding figures of the Mexican team.
Ochoa made his professional soccer debut almost twenty years ago with Club América and has been with the Mexican national team for 15 years. His perseverance has earned him an almost indisputable presence in the friendly and official matches of El Tri.
His participation in the World Cups has been outstanding. At Russia 2018, he was the goalkeeper who made the most saves of the tournament, according to a technical study of the International Football Federation (FIFA). For Qatar 2022, the starting goalkeeper and captain of the Mexican team returns as the main rival.
“He is at the top of the list of opponents attackers don’t want to face in the World Cup,” FIFA described him this year in a video recalling his best saves during the world championships. How many World Cups have you played with Mexico? Here, a review of his record in the biggest soccer tournament in the world.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) August 31, 2022
1. Germany 2006
At the age of 21, Memo Ochoa was called up to the Mexican team to be part of the squad of players who played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He was a substitute, the third goalkeeper behind Oswaldo Sánchez and José de Jesús Corona. Mexico was left out of the World Cup after losing to Argentina in a round of 16 match that went down in history thanks to the impressive goal by Maxi Rodríguez that gave victory to the albiceleste.
2. South Africa 2010
Four years later, Memo Ochoa was called up for South Africa 2010. He was again as a substitute, only this time he was the second goalkeeper behind Oscar “Conejo” Pérez.
3. Brazil 2014
Brazil 2014 was the first World Cup that Ochoa took to the field and he did it in such a way that his exploits remained etched in the memory of the fans. Just look at the sensation he caused in Internet after the saves to Neymar and Thiago Silva, who helped the tie between the Mexican and Brazilian teams. Hundreds of images were shared: Ochoa as Superman, Ochoa as TIME magazine cover (a joke alluding to the time that former President Enrique Peña Nieto appeared under the phrase: “Saving Mexico”), Ochoa as Gandalf (when preventing the passage of the Balrog) and many more.
4. Russia 2018
For Russia 2018, Memo Ochoa returned as the starting goalkeeper for the Mexican team. His participation was also outstanding and he established himself as one of the most outstanding of the Tri. He was the goalkeeper who accumulated the most saves of the tournament, according to a technical study of the International Football Federation (FIFA).
5. Qatar 2022
Ochoa will play his fifth World Cup alongside the Mexican team.
During his team’s preparation for the friendly against Peru prior to the World Cup, the Mexican goalkeeper spoke of a new responsibility with the team, beyond taking care of the Mexican goal.
“You get bigger, you have more minutes, you have more experience and you have to support the youngsters,” he said.
The veteran goalkeeper will arrive in Qatar as an established goalkeeper. He has won the Gold Cup 4 times with the national team.
With information from CNN’s Raúl Sáenz