Blanco ends storied career as a champion

Cuauhtemoc Blanco (white jersey) celebrates after winning the Copa MX Clausura title with Puebla on April 21, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport

PUEBLA, Mexico -- Cuauhtemoc Blanco closed an illustrious 23-year career, playing the last 20 minutes for Puebla in its 4-2 Copa MX Clausura triumph over Guadalajara on Tuesday. 

Considered one of the greatest players in Mexican football history, Blanco – in his last professional game -- was given a winner's reception by his teammates, who lifted him above their shoulders in celebration after the match. 

The 42-year-old decided to retire with three matches remaining in Liga MX Clausura season in order to concentrate on his campaign for the mayoralty of Cuernavaca, a city of nearly 350,000.  The election is in June. 

"I'm going out very thankful to all the fans that supported me," said Blanco.  "I enjoyed everything to the maximum and I thank God for giving me these legs and the gift of playing football. 

"Retiring doesn't hurt me, it hurts not seeing the fans.  I'll miss the chants that the fans always gave me." 

Blanco's accomplishments -- club and personal – are seemingly endless. 

He was a key member of the Mexican sides that captured CONCACAF Gold Cup titles in 1996 and 1998, as well as the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup crown. 

With Club America, Blanco won the Mexican league (2005 Clausura) and the CONCACAF Champions Cup (2006) once each.

Individually, he earned numerous accolades, including the Confederations Cup Golden Boot and Silver Ball (both in 1999), five Mexican league MVP awards, and was selected to Major League Soccer's Best XI (2008). 

Blanco scored in each of his three FIFA World Cup appearances (1998, 2002 and 2010), becoming the first Mexican to accomplish that feat.  Making his international debut in 1995, Blanco won 120 caps for the Tricolor and netted 39 goals. 

He performed for 10 clubs -- Club America, Necaxa, Veracruz, Santos, Irapuato, Dorados de Sinaloa, BUAP and Puebla (all Mexico), Chicago Fire (USA) and Real Valladolid (Spain) – and played in more than 600 professional matches.