Playing in a FIFA World Cup in itself is a privilege that few get the chance to experience, as only a handful of fortunate players travel with their country, but playing in five of the tournaments is a true rarity and the sign of a genuine footballing legend.
Antonio Carbajal is one of those great players whose name is synonymous with the World Cup. 'La Tota', as he was known, pulled on Mexico's number 1 shirt at five World Cups, in 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966, as well as being considered one of the best players in his nation's history and recognised as the Best CONCACAF Keeper in the Twentieth Century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).
His record with Mexico
Perhaps the greatest gap in Carbajal's career was a more successful World Cup campaign. Despite his superb shot stopping, the legendary Mexican keeper was not enough to take his country through the group stages in any of his five participations.
His record at the World Cup
After a lot of hard work, the first victory for Carbajal’s Mexico came against Czechoslovakia (3-1) in 1962, when he was also chosen by the press as the best goalkeeper.
In total, the Mexican played in goal for his country in eleven World Cup matches: three in Brazil 1950, one in Switzerland 1954, three in Sweden 1958, three in Chile 1962 and one in England 1966. His swansong came in England against Uruguay (0-0) in the famous Wembley stadium, bringing to an end a run that started 16 years earlier in another of football’s most famous arenas, the Maracanã.
48 years after the 'La Tota' hung up his boots, Mexico has found another keeper to worship. A reflection of Carbajal’s reflexes can be seen nearly half a century later in Guillermo Ochoa, who is proving to be a hard man to beat in the World Cup in Brazil, thanks to his incredible saves.
After two matches, against Cameroon and Brazil, the Mexican stopper has surprised everyone by keeping two clean sheets to take his country to the verge of the second round. At 28 years of age and with three World Cups under his belt, Ochoa could yet emulate the player who was, for a long time, the icon of Mexican football.