By October 5, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

The Lowry Lowdown: On Playing With Cuauhtémoc Blanco

Cuauhtemoc Blanco #10 of the Chicago Fire (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

For those of you who weren’t aware, Cuauhtémoc Blanco is perhaps the most recognizable Hispanic athlete in the world. His stardom is on par with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Oscar De La Hoya.  A few years ago when Blanco and I were both with the Chicago Fire, I was able to fully grasp the magnitude of just how big of a star this guy is.

I was drafted into the Fire in early 2008 and joined the team for a two week preseason trip to Mexico. Blanco had joined the Fire midway through the 2007 campaign and had very nearly led the team to an MLS Cup Final. (The impact he had on the season is what likely landed him on the cover of the EA Sports’ FIFA 2008 video game.)

The team and I arrived at the airport in Mexico to begin our camp and went to pick up our luggage and gear at baggage claim. I will never forget the sight - hundreds of people, camera crews, and photographers were waiting for us! Blanco knew it was coming and was safely guided by security and airport personnel to a private car that whisked him away to the hotel. We were left with the crowd, who were disappointed that we showed up without Blanco.  It felt like walking into a surprise party where, instead of yelling “SURPRISE!” everyone just turns around and walks away.

I compare my two weeks in Mexico with Blanco to what it would be like spending two weeks in Los Angeles with Brad Pitt. People were just going crazy to see him, get a photo or procure an autograph. It felt like I was only there to help fans better locate him or hold a jersey for Blanco to sign. It was like being a prop in the school play while someone else stars in the show but I was more than happy to just be a part of the spectacle.

Maybe if I had gone to a Backstreet Boys concert back in the late 90′s that would have compared. There were fans with tattoos of his face and autograph and even cars painted with his picture on them. In the lobby of the hotel, there were always at least 100 fans, photographers, and TV crews, anxiously waiting to catch a glimpse of him

Apparently, a short time before we arrived in Mexico, Blanco had been photographed leaving a Mexican nightclub with an unknown woman who was not his girlfriend at the time (the reigning Miss Mexico). It was a scandal that was rocking the tempestuous Mexican gossip columns but, nevertheless, his impact on the country was quite apparent.

Blanco is a great Mexican success story, rising from the barrios of Mexico City to become an international soccer star and millionaire. He starred on the Mexican national team in three World Cups and is widely regarded as one of the best ever Mexican soccer players. At age 39, he plays with Dorados de Sinaloa in the Mexican 3rd division.

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