Despite his only two and a half year stay in the German league, the Mexican Pável Pardo should still be fondly remembered by the fans in this country (especially those of VfB Stuttgart). Our South American colleagues from 90min the midfielder was the only one to answer questions.
90min: Pável, why do we see so few Mexicans in the Bundesliga?
Pardo: It has to be said that the internal market in Germany is very strong. They don’t spend a lot of money there on newcomers. The peaks are between four and ten million euros. Except for Bayern and Dortmund, there are hardly any expensive transfers in this league.
However, the Mexican footballer is expensive – for Europe and for the Bundesliga. In South America, most of the clubs are “selling clubs”, but Mexico has a lot of purchasing power which allows clubs to retain their talent.
90min: The Mexican league is smiled at a little. And yet many players use this ramp to make themselves interesting for Europe.
Pardo: The Mexican league is very attractive. Guido Rodríguez is a good example. First he played for Tijuana, then he moved to America – and now plays for Betis. Now he should also be on the screen at English clubs. The European scouts know that there are good players in Mexico and that this country is a launch pad towards Europe.
90min: What are your fondest memories from the championship season with VfB?
Pardo: Well, just imagine: Two Mexicans (Pável Pardo and Ricardo Osorio, the editor) that hardly anyone knew. And the way the Germans are … they are just wonderful memories.
We came to a club that hadn’t won a title in 15 years. It was unforgettable. Every gamer’s dream. Coming to Europe, becoming a champion in the first year and leaving your mark was something incredible.
90min: The 2006 World Cup took place in Germany and immediately afterwards you switched to Stuttgart.
Pardo: We had already followed the Confed Cup before. The and the World Cup took place in Germany. The Mexican national team had made good impressions, which is why they thought we were suitable. They knew who they were hiring, and I think people were happy with us.
90min: Before you arrived, VfB was without a title for 15 years. Now 15 years have passed again – but the supremacy of Bavaria seems to have increased.
Pardo: It’s getting harder and harder these days. Things have been similar in Italy in recent years, with Juventus at the top as a permanent guest. This season there are once again two serious competitors, Inter and Milan. It would be good if this also happened in Germany.
Dortmund was always there somehow, but when things got serious, they failed. Bayern have a squad of 22 top players of almost equal value. They dominate because they have a squad that can compete for all the trophies.
90min: Your former team-mate Thomas Hitzlsperger is now one of the most powerful men at VfB. How do you rate his path?
Pardo: He’s done well so far. As a player, he was very professional. He then took on a kind of ambassador role in the club and went his way bit by bit. They are currently setting up a very dynamic team structure. Your fans are very passionate, but also demanding. I think Hitzlsperger is doing a good job.
90min: Who were your best teammates?
Pardo: Hitzlsperger was technically very strong. Sami Khedira was also a good player, who was later able to convince with his qualities even at Real and Juventus. I also remember Cacau. A very shrewd striker with a goal risk.
Mario Gómez was perhaps not that strong in terms of play, but already indicated interesting facets back then. And Osorio, of course. He could play left and right because he was equally strong with both feet.
90min: Are you following the fate of the current VfB team?
Pardo: Yes I do. In fact, I’m also the Bundesliga ambassador for Mexico, South America and the United States. I personally have a very close relationship with VfB. From the current squad, I would highlight Nicolás González. He came, found his place in the team and has now matured into one of the most important players in the squad.
90min: As a player agent, you obviously have an eye for talent. Which five Mexicans could you imagine in the Bundesliga?
Pardo: There is a new, interesting generation of gamers. They provide the basic framework for Mexico’s Olympic selection. Players like Santiago Naveda, José Juan Macías, Luis Romo, Alexis Vega y César Montes are now regulars in their clubs and have what it takes to go to Europe.
90min: You know this Mexican World Cup curse because of the darned fifth game. Do you think that this curse can be banished by Tata Martino?
Pardo: Yes. I’ve always said that every project takes time. At the time, Germany spent two to three billion euros on promoting talent. It took more than ten years to reap the benefits of that investment. In the end there was the World Cup title from 2014. I see Mexico very close to this ominous fifth game (read: World Cup quarter-finals, the editor).
I like Tata because its style is similar to Bielsa. If he sees a 17-year-old who convinces him, he nominates him. He doesn’t pay attention to age. He was also a coach in Paraguay, Argentina, Barcelona and Atlanta and has done a good job everywhere.
90min: If you had to put the titles you won, from the championships in 2002 and 2005, through the Conca champions with America 2006 to the Bundesliga title in 2007, in an order of importance – what would it look like?
Pardo: First the Bundesliga title in 2007. Then the two championships with America and finally the Conca Champions.