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There is no place for mediocrity

Hugo Sanchez

Born: 11 July 1958 in Mexico City
Nationality: Mexican
Career as a player: 1975 – 1981: Univercidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). Summers of 1979 and 1980: San Diego Sockers (USA). 1981 – 1985: Atletico Madrid (Spain). 1985 – 1992: Real Madrid (Spain). 1992 – 1993: Club America (Mexico). 1993 – 1994: Rayo Vallecano (Spain). 1994 – 1995: Atlante (Mexico). 1995: Linz (Austria). 1996: Dallas Burn (USA). 1997 – 1998: Atletico Celaya (Mexico).
Honors as a player: Played in the 1978, 1986 and 1994 FIFA World Cups. 1977: CONCACAF championship winner (as a member of the top team in the World Cup qualifying). 1980 and 1982: CONCACAF Champions’ Cup winner. 1986: UEFA Cup winner. 1986 – 1990: five Spanish league titles. 1985, 1989: Spanish cup winner. 1977, 1981: Mexican league title. 1985 – 1988, 1990: European Golden Shoe winner (38 goals). 347 league matches in Spain, 233 goals. 260 league matches in Mexico, 124 goals. 60 caps for Mexico, 29 goals.
Career as a coach: January 200 – November 2005: UNAM. September – November 2006: Necaxa 9Mexico). Since November 2006: Mexican national coach.
Honors as a coach: 2004, 2005: Mexican league title. 2005: Mexican cup.
Miscellaneous: Sanchez is a qualified dentist and owns various properties, including houses in Madrid, Mexico City and the Mexican resort of Cancun, as well as several sports shops and a fitness club. He is a father of four and his son, Hugo Jr, is also a footballer and plays for Atlante. He is married to his second wife, a former Miss Spain, and has five brothers and sisters, whose names all begin with the letter “H”: Hector, Horacio, Hilda, Herla and Haidee. Hector and Horacio were also professional footballers.

Legendary Mexican footballer Hugo Sanchez has been the coach of his country’s national team since last November. He aims to transform them into one of the best sides in the world.

Q: What will surprise us about the new Mexican national team?
Hugo Sanchez: We are full of excitement and hope that we will be able to achieve objectives that were previously beyond the Mexican national side. That is why I am calling on the whole country to raise the bar in terms of ambitions so that we can develop. Mexico is a big country with a great infrastructure, wealth, a lot of Mexicans … but more involvement is required. I am sending out a message to all sectors of the media: social, political, cultural, economic and sporting. If we want Mexico to be up there with the best in the world, we all need to pull in the same direction.

Q: You were a leader. Will the first thing you do be to install a winning mentality into your charges?
Hugo Sanchez: Yes, ambition has always been one of my defining characteristics because I am never satisfied. I look for players who feel proud to be in the Mexican team and who are prepared to work harder and go to greater lengths than they have done up to now. They must also be better prepared mentally; that’s what I did as a player and as a person. There’s no place for mediocrity.

Q: Do you feel different to when you made your debut as a footballer?
Hugo Sanchez: The feeling is similar but not identical. I made my debut aged 18 and I remember I was very excited when I got my call-up. I didn’t do a somersault because there was no room in my house, but I was with my parents and I remember that I was so happy when I saw I was in the squad that I threw my mother to the floor. This time I hugged my wife and children. Being Mexico coach was one of the targets I had set myself for my sporting career.

Q: Is your approach to football as spectacular as when you were a player, i.e. attack, attack, attack and then attack some more?
Hugo Sanchez: Yes, Mexican football lacks something that is clearly defined in other teams: its own personality. When you play against England, you know how the English play. The same is true of Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany or even Spain. In Mexico we need to develop our own style and that is what I intend to give the team so that we become readily identifiable. I did something similar at Pumas (the Mexican club Sanchez coached previously) in winning two national titles and achieving a level of football so high that we managed to beat Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium for the first time ever. The aim is to be capable of beating any team in the world.

Q: Will central defender Rafael Marquez be your right hand, your eyes and your voice on the pitch?
Hugo Sanchez: Yes, you could call him my right-hand man. He will be leader and captain of the team. I’ve already discussed it with him. I want him to be involved because of his experience and to share the responsibility among him and the other leaders in the team. Because of his achievements, his merits and his leadership qualities, he will be the captain and the key figure.

Q: What expectations do you have of Giovanni Dos Santos, the young Barcelona player?
Hugo Sanchez: He’s coming along very well. He is definitely moving in the right direction, not just him but also Carlos Vela, Efrahim and all the others who won the U-17 World Championship in 2005 and will now be doing their utmost to qualify for this year’s U-20 World Cup in Canada in order to attempt to win a second title.

Q: Are you going to show the players how to do an overhead kick?
Hugo Sanchez: Some can already do it very well, which I’m pleased about. Of course, if anyone wants to prefect that aspect of their game, I will not hesitate to devote the necessary time to them so that they learn to do it properly. What I would never do, though, is to ask them to play like me. I will respect each player’s individual style, as I have done up to now as a coach, and I will try to guide them in order to bring out the best in each of them in accordance with their particular merits and qualities. I will also bear in mind their limitations.
Q: You have already shown what you are capable of as a coach by winning two titles (with Pumas). What do you hope to achieve now?
Hugo Sanchez: I’ve always liked to leave my mark. In this case, I would like to leave my mark by achieving great things with Mexico, which is something that the national team has not done up to now. Results aside, I would like to give the team an identifiable playing style. I am referring to years gone by. If you ask the experts, nobody knows what Mexico’s playing style is because we don’t have one and it’s necessary to establish one. It’s as simple as that.

Q: Who is the best centre forward in the world today?
Hugo Sanchez: It’s hard to say. I think Van Nistelrooy has been the best over the past few years – one of the few complete centre forwards. Then you have other forwards with different styles like Ronaldo, Thierry Henry … and other types of player like Messi, who is great in his position. There is also David Villa, who’s not as well known as the others, but is powerful without being physically imposing and knows how to anticipate and gain an advantage over defenders.

Q: Will your grandchildren see anyone beat your record of 38 goals in a season in the Spanish league?
Hugo Sanchez: I honestly don’t know. Records were invented to be broken. Nothing is impossible. I imagine the longer it takes to break the record, the more its prestige will grow. I hope to be alive to congratulate the player who manages it, like when Zarra (the first player to score 38 goals in a season, in 1950-1951) congratulated me the day I equaled his record. I’m not selfish and I hope that one day my tally will be bettered so that I can make the same grand gesture that I received from Zarra.