An international for a decade and with over 400 club appearances to his name, it’s impossible to talk about Mexican football in the 21st century without mentioning Alfredo Talavera.
Best remembered for his time with Toluca, Talavera has represented his national team on almost 40 occasions, starring at multiple major tournaments.
He’s 19th in total Liga MX appearances since 1996/97 and has collected individual accolades to partner with team success at club and national level.
Talavera has drawn compliments from footballing legends for his performances. It hasn’t always been straight-forward, yet the La Barca-born stopper has built a spectacular career spanning three decades.
Alfredo Talavera Career
Starting out in the Guadalajara academy, Talavera had to wait until 2005 for his opportunity with the club. Mexican legend Oswaldo Sanchez was sidelined with an injury, leaving the door ajar for the youngster to make his mark.
The following season presented another opportunity with Sanchez away on international duty. Talavera was unable to claim the number one jersey, though, with Guadalajara leaking goals.
He also made a high-profile error in a cup match, and slipped down to third choice. Even when Sanchez departed, Talavera was considered no more than a backup, leading to an unsuccessful loan stint with Tigres.
A permanent move to Toluca followed in 2009. The club had lost Hernan Cristante to an injury, and Talavera got sweet revenge over Guadalajara with a victory on his debut.
Talavera stepped up in a big way for Diablos Rojos, starting every game as they made a run to the Championship semi-finals.
The following year, he was a star man as Toluca won the title. Talavera made a crucial penalty save in the final, which accompanied many other impressive performances throughout the season.
He was awarded the Gold Glove in 2010 as a result and had established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Mexico.
Remaining entertaining and consistent for Toluca, Talavera drew praise from big names around the soccer world.
He even attracted international headlines when he scored his first Liga MX goal in 2013. It wasn’t any ordinary goal either, as he converted a penalty in the dying seconds to snatch a point for his side.
The next season, Talavera and Toluca lost the CONCACAF Champions League final, but even in disappointing circumstances, the Mexico international earned the Golden Glove award.
Ahead of the 2020-21 season, Talavera swapped Toluca for Universidad Nacional. He made his debut for the Pumas at the start of the season and was named to the Liga MX best eleven at the end of the campaign.
First called up to the national team in 2011, Talavera made his debut in a win over Paraguay.
He was named to the 2011 Gold Cup squad as third choice, but he ascended to take the number one jersey as the players ahead of him in the pecking order became unavailable.
Starting every game, he made some key saves as Mexico won the tournament.
He was named to further squads at the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup but did not feature in either tournament. The same fate was suffered at the 2015 Copa America.
Despite accumulating 38 caps across an international career that has lasted the best part of a decade, Talavera was often fighting against more highly regarded goalkeepers. He’ll always have the Gold Cup win in 2011, at least.
Comments On MLS
Despite never playing in MLS, Alfredo Talavera hasn’t been shy to make his opinions on the league known. Talavera’s verdict on Major League Soccer might be deemed controversial, as he claimed Liga MX to be a higher level than its peer north of the border.
In August 2021, speaking to TUDN, the Mexican stopper spoke on Mexico exporting players.
He said, “Every time it gets better, a very clear proof of the MLS is that it has sent more players to Europe. Mexico has been doing it for a long time and with MLS out there I think it takes a little longer, that may be the difference.”
Talavera also shared some positive thoughts on Major League Soccer, with the likes of Kevin Hartman inspiring the Mexican to enjoy his career for as long as possible.
“What it does have (MLS) is great organization with so many teams, beautiful stadiums, with players who come to make a difference in this league.”
While there’s clearly an element of rivalry between the top levels of soccer in the United States and Mexico, Talavera was excited about the prospect of representing Liga MX in the All-Star game.
Speaking on the showpiece game, the veteran shot stopper said, “It is similar to representing a country like the national team, but now it is representing a league, and it makes it special, interesting because it is not done every day.
“We do not see it as an exhibition, it is to win, to win, it is with the mentality with which we come.”
Talavera Style Of Play
Former Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio is one of many high-profile figures to praise Talavera’s ability to cope with aerial balls.
Osorio said, “[Talavera has] an extraordinary aerial game. So we have a great goalkeeper for this particular style of game against teams who are direct and are excellent on set-pieces.”
Oswaldo Sanchez, former teammate of Talavera and a Mexican soccer legend, spoke glowingly of Talavera’s overall ability between the sticks.
“I think that the most complete of [Talavera, Ochoa, and Corona] is Talavera, because he is a guy that has strong legs, is good in the air, plays well with his feet and has good reactions.”
Writing in 2017, Mexican football expert Tom Marshall wrote about Talavera on ESPN. He said, “Put simply, Talavera is the most complete, consistent and well-rounded keeper in Mexico’s top division and has been for the last couple of years.”
Consistency is not an exciting or jaw-dropping attribute, but it’s one Talavera honed throughout his lengthy career after some costly mistakes in his early seasons.