the best players in the French championship (570-561) / In partnership with Amazon Prime Video /

Rafael Marquez
Monaco (1999-2003)

Munich may have seen the birth The emperor. But in Michoacán, we especially know The Kaiser. Mexican national emblem, participating in five World Cups with The Three (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) and financier of the Sinaloa or Guadalajara cartels in his spare time, Rafael Márquez has indeed become one of the best central defenders on the planet, after 22 years of experience. A capital epic, started in Europe on the side of AS Monaco.

In the midst of upheaval, the Monegasque leaders were in fact beginning to rejuvenate their workforce, in view of the new millennium. In 1999, barely 19 years old, the young Márquez thus caught the eye of Claude Puel, at the end of a victorious Confederations Cup against Brazil (4-3) and during which he notably burst the screen. for having muzzled another young shoot, in the person of Ronaldinho: “I came back from the Confederations Cup to resume with my club Atlashe told Telemundo. And when I got home, I found two leaders from Monaco. They told me : “Rafael, we work for AS Monaco and we would like to recruit you. Monaco is a club in France, but not really in France. We are a city, but not really a city.” Me, I was in the middle of the discussion, completely lost. And I followed them, not even knowing where I was going to land. »

The pick is finally good, for the one who plays 89 D1 matches (104 in total), gleans a championship title in 2000, a League Cup in 2003 and turns into a big brother for the other Latino of the band, the Chilean Pablo Contreras, who told it in our columns in 2017: “After two weeks, I wanted to go back to Chile, I was far from my family, I didn’t speak the language. And then as Rafa Márquez arrived, it became easier. We were the same age, we did everything together. We had lunch together, we had dinner together. Rafa was my brother for two years. And when I left, Rafa got married! His mother called me from Mexico saying: “Pablo, Rafael is too young to get married, tell him you are his best friend, he will listen to you.” I went to tell Rafael that his mother had called me and he said: “I got married to have someone with me. Otherwise, I would have been left alone since you are abandoning me.”  » An abandonment that he will in turn suffer in Monaco by joining FC Barcelona. For an even bigger story.