Friday 04 February 2022, 12:00

Gonzalez: Monterrey have enormous potential here

  • Monterrey midfielder competing at his second Club World Cup

  • Believes Los Rayados can aspire to make history

  • Mexican player won U-17 World Cup in 2011 on home soil

Right after the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ final in 2011, in which Mexico beat Uruguay 2-0, Arturo Gonzalez’s thoughts immediately turned to his family. After finding his father in the crowd and embracing him, he noticed him doing something he had never seen before – crying. Of course, his father had every reason to shed a tear. After all, his son had just been crowned world champion at the Estadio Azteca in front of 100,000 Mexicans, who were elated by their country’s second world title in the category. Fast-forward 11 years and Gonzalez is now a seasoned pro and a key part of the Monterrey side who have travelled to Abu Dhabi with aspirations of making a big impact at the FIFA Club World Cup™.

FIFA: What do you remember about the U-17 World Cup in 2011? Arturo Gonzalez: The stadiums being full. Playing a World Cup is every footballer’s dream, but doing it at the age of 16, in your home country, in front of a capacity crowd at the Azteca, is the stuff of movies. There are no words to describe what I felt at that moment. By then, I’d already left home, having gone to Guadalajara to start pursuing my dream of becoming a footballer, so to have an opportunity to compete at a World Cup so soon was a blessing for my family. During the final, I recall not really noticing the noise of the 100,000 fans until the first goal. Then it was as if someone had just turned on the sound. I also remember that when the game ended, I ran to see my family in the special enclosure. There were some 80 people there, and everyone was crying with emotion. I hugged my dad, who said to me, ‘You did it!’ Seeing my family like that was an unforgettable moment.

Is the fact that you won a FIFA World Cup at such a young age an advantage as you head into your second Club World Cup? I don't know. I now consider myself a more mature player, so maybe in that respect yes. I feel I have more experience. But every World Cup is different and I know that this tournament is really top notch. This time I won’t be experiencing it as a young man, but as a more mature player. Nicolas Sanchez told us that the secret to this type of tournament is not to be overwhelmed by the pressure and to enjoy it. Would you agree? Yes, you have to enjoy it because we’ve all been playing the game since we were little, and so we must retain the joy of doing what we love. That said, we need to be aware of the opportunity that being back at this tournament entails. We’re not only representing Monterrey, but all of Mexico too.

What’s your team’s objective in Abu Dhabi? To achieve big things. I’ve said that this is a team that fights to win every tournament, and the Club World Cup will be no exception. We have a large squad of players of great quality, so expectations are high. We know our potential here is enormous and we want to play a major part. Club legend Cesar Delgado said this is the best squad Monterrey have ever taken to a Club World Cup. Do you see it that way? Yes. Player by player we have a very deep squad with a lot of competition. Monterrey have had some great squads and big wins in the past, so it's a compliment for someone like him to say that. But let's show it on the pitch. That said, this squad has always been very united, both in good times and bad, and that’s important because major titles are first won in the dressing room. This group excels in that regard.

Does the possibility of avoiding Chelsea in the semis let you dream of reaching the final for the first time? We must take it step by step as we have another match before we can think about that. We’ll need to play well, win and take it game by game. Every opponent is different, but I think we have a chance of reaching the semi-finals, and why not reach the final and go on to win. Will any of your family be in Abu Dhabi? My girlfriend is coming with her family. Mine cannot come for a variety of reasons, but they will be eagerly following my progress as always, which gives me a lot of confidence and assurance. My family have been by my side all my life, but here I will have my girlfriend, who is super important to me.

And they might even end up crying tears of joy like at the Azteca in 2011… (laughs) I hope so.