The Mexican goalkeeper became a superhero for about 3 weeks.
Type Guillermo Ochoa into Google and one of the first suggestions you’ll see is ‘Ochoa six fingers.’
No, there’s nothing untoward going on there, it’s just a rumour that was rife on the internet after his superhuman showing in the 2014 World Cup.
After *that* performance against Brazil, Ochoa became the subject of memes from all over the world, the likes of which we haven’t seen since David ‘The Ornacle’ Ornstein began dropping Arsenal transfer news for fun.
Anyway, I think you get the idea…
So, in anticipation of the Mexican stopper being an absolute boss in Russia, allow us to familiarise yourself with all things Ochoa.
Take my hand (the one with all six fingers on) as we go on a stroll down memory lane and remember the sensation that was Guillermo Ochoa at the 2014 World Cup
EL Tri faced a tough task to get out of their group in 2014, having been drawn alongside hosts Brazil, Croatia and Cameron.
Mexico began their campaign with a resolute 1-0 win against Cameron, Ochoa keeping a clean-sheet in what was an assured performance against Cameron’s Samuel Eto.
Having turned a few heads against Cameron, the Mexican shot-stopper fully announced himself to the world against the hosts Brazil, in Fortaleza.
Luis Felipe Scolari’s men had the lion’s share of the game’s chances, but were thwarted by the bushy-haired wall that is Ochoa.
Brazil’s trident attack of Neymar, Hulk and Fred (yes, Fred, remember him?) were all left frustrated by the heroics of Ochoa between the sticks, who held firm, pulling off a string of superhuman saves to keep the score at 0-0.
The standout save coming as he dived at full stretch to deny Neymar from scoring a seemingly unstoppable header, in a moment which drew comparisons with Gordon Banks’ ‘save of the century’ against Pele in 1970.
Ochoa told FIFA.com after the game that he wasn’t expecting Neymar to get contact on the ball, but made sure he was ready just in case, “I didn’t think he’d manage to get an effort on goal, but even so I got into position to make sure I was ready,” said Ochoa.
“Suddenly I saw he’d won the header and after that everything was instinctive. I pushed off with my feet, stretched as far as I could and managed to keep the ball out.”
Somehow Brazil failed to scored from any of their 14 shots, with Ochoa saving six of these to deny the hosts.
The performance of Ochoa immediately had clubs around the world on alert, with the Mexican’s contract at French club AJ Ajaccio, having expired the summer of the tournament.
Ochoa was now a free-agent and certainly wasn’t short of offers.
The good times kept on coming for Mexico, after a 3-1 win over Croatia in their final group game sealed their progress into the last-sixteen, as Ochoa and co finished runners up in the group behind Brazil on goal difference.
Ochoa was denied his third clean sheet in as many games after an Ivan Perisic’s consolation goal in the 87 minute… spoilsport
The keeper had a remarkable group stage, conceding just once in Mexico’s 3 group games, the joint best with Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas and Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois.
But, alas, just as every good story starts, it must end too.
The joy was to be short-lived for Mexico and Ochoa, after a dramatic defeat to Holland in the round of 16.
Despite his best efforts, denying the Dutch on several occasions with a string of remarkable saves, Ochoa was left helpless in the end.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar burried a 94th minute penalty to deny Mexico their first quarter-final in 28 years.
Maybe it was for the best after all, can you imagine if Ochoa had saved the penalty, the internet would have broke.
Following Mexico’s tournament exit, Ochoa was snapped up by La Liga side Malaga, signing a three-year-deal.
It turns out, however, that we all jumped the gun a bit and four good games wasn’t a true reflection on a goalkeeper, who would have thought it?
After failing to impress at Malaga, the Ochoa was shipped out on a season-long loan to Granda in 2016.
He was voted Granada’s Player of the Season in 2016-17, despite breaking the record for the most goals conceded in a single La Liga season.
The Mexican was, however, the keeper who made the most saves across the top five leagues in Europe that season, with a total of 162 saves.
A hollow victory of course, after conceding 82 goals and seeing his side relegated…
Last year, Ochoa’s La Liga nightmare finally ended, after he was bought by Belgian club Standard Liege on a two-year deal.
Ochoa is expected to start for Mexico in Russia this summer and it might be wise for Liege to tie him down to a longer contract in anticipation of what’s to come.
Let’s face it, he’s going to be the best keeper in the world again at the World Cup in Russia this summer.
We all know it…