They say time waits for no man and while it doesn’t ever fully stop, it for some people it seems to move slower than others. Rafa Márquez is one such man for whom time seems more abstract than concrete.
A step slower and perhaps with a gray hair or two, 39 year old Márquez was subbed on in the 74th minute of Mexico’s 1-0 win in the World Cup against defending champions Germany. He is the only man to appear in five World Cups. Six women have appeared in five World Cups (Kristine Lilly and Christie Rampone for the United States, Birgit Prinz and Nadine Angerer for Germany, Bente Nordbe for Norway and Karina LeBlanc for Canada) while two women have made six (Brazil’s Formiga and Japan’s Homare Sawa).
Márquez first appeared in the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, although he had been making appearances for El Tri since 1997. To put that in perspective, teammate Edson Álvarez was born after Márquez’ first cap and hadn’t yet turned five years old when Rafa made his World Cup debut.
It wasn’t just for show either. Márquez was subbed on with a considerable amount of time left in the match and Mexico clinging on to a 1-0 lead. Germany began to throw everything at Mexico too, including in stoppage time sending goalkeeper Manuel Neuer up into Guillermo Ochoa’s box on a corner kick. Márquez was able to go out and provide an extra layer to the defense, even springing Miguel Layún down the right on a breakaway.
This is most likely Márquez’ final time in the World Cup as a player, and he’s seized his opportunity when presented.