With 109 caps, three World Cups appearances and 20 goals for the Mexican national team, Alberto Garcia Aspe lived and breathed El Tri for the vast majority of his career.
Few are as qualified to talk about the current state of the national team as the former Pumas and Club America midfielder, but, like many Mexico fans, he is at a loss to explain why Carlos Vela has distanced himself from El Tri.
"I can't understand it because for me the greatest thing for a player is to represent their country in a World Cup, in qualifiers, in whatever," Garcia Aspe told Goal USA.
Like most people, Garcia Aspe, who is the analyst for Fox Deportes on the new studio show Debate Final and on La Ultima Palabra, says he is in the dark about the deep-lying reasons behind Vela's no-show in a Mexico shirt since March 2011. But, again like most, he remains hopeful that the Real Sociedad forward will be at Brazil 2014.
"No one can argue about Vela's quality as a player, but the management of the situation surrounding him has been sad," Garcia Aspe said.
The former Pumas sporting vice president added that Miguel Herrera's planned trip to Europe to talk to Mexico's Euro-legion will be vital and that Mexico needs to "take advantage of all its players and even more if they are going through a good moment."
Garcia Aspe puts Mexico's poor 2013 down to a lack of confidence stemming from that first 0-0 draw in the Estadio Azteca against Jamaica, and the pressure that was piled on the team as things didn't go to plan following a memorable 2012, capped by Olympic gold.
"They believed they'd won everything," said Garcia Aspe, who pointed to the failure to take chances as another major cause behind Mexico's dire 2013.
On a more positive note, Garcia Aspe has confidence that Miguel Herrera is the right person to lead Mexico and that the European players will play a vital role moving forward, despite not one being called up to the World Cup playoff last month again New Zealand.
"I think that in this moment (Herrera) is the right person and Miguel will have six months to work," Garcia Aspe said. "Obviously the team that defeated New Zealand won't be the same that will go to Brazil. There will be some players that have Miguel's trust, but he'll also have to call up the players that are in Europe."
And if certain factors fall into place, Garcia Aspe believes Mexico can do good things in the World Cup.
"There are good players and a very good squad if they are dedicated, if they play well and if they are on form," he said. "Mexico has interesting players."
With most international teams playing formations with four at the back, there is a suggestion that Herrera's 5-3-2 with three central defenders could either create surprise or problems for Mexico in Brazil, but Garcia Aspe thinks the system is flexible enough, saying "the most important thing is that players arrive in form."
Garcia Aspe also highlighted the importance of the upcoming Clausura 2014 tournament and hopes injury concerns don't play a part in the build-up to the World Cup.
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- Alberto Garcia Aspe
- Carlos Vela
- Miguel Herrera