From Chicharito to Andrés Guardado and Pável Pardo: a history of Mexicans in the Bundesliga


Javier Hernández, better known as Chicharito, is the most famous Mexican ever to have graced the Bundesliga (and arguably the whole world!), inspiring a number of his compatriots to follow suit. But he was by no means the first of his countrymen to play in Germany’s top flight.

Ahead of El Tri’s international friendly against Julian Nagelsmann’s side in Philadelphia on 18 October, we trace the roots of Mexican players in Germany.

1) Pável Pardo

Club: VfB Stuttgart
Central midfield
Bundesliga appearances:
71 (July 2006 – December 2008)

Alongside Ricardo Osorio (more on him below), Pardo was the first Mexican to arrive in the Bundesliga, having impressed Stuttgart bosses during Mexico’s run to the round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Nicknamed “El Comandante” at the club given his discipline in central midfield, astute reading of the game and superb positional awareness, Pardo was an instrumental member of the Stuttgart side that won the Bundesliga title in his debut season, scoring one goal in 33 league outings en route to the title.

Pável Pardo (bottom right) celebrates with VfB Stuttgart supporters after clinching the Bundesliga title in his first season at the club. - Bongarts/Getty Images

He also scored a late penalty to take the 2007 DFB Cup final to extra time, before VfB ultimately lost 3-2 against Nuremberg. Pardo remained at the club until December 2008, at which point he moved back to his previous employers América.

2) Ricardo Osorio

Club: VfB Stuttgart
Centre-back, right-back
Bundesliga appearances:
73 (July 2006 – June 2010)

“He’s the young one, and I’m the boss,” said Pardo when he was unveiled alongside Osorio at Stuttgart in summer 2006. Not that Osorio let himself get pushed around on the pitch – far from it, in fact.

The defender also slotted straight into a Stuttgart side steered by Armin Veh, scoring once in 27 Bundesliga outings in his debut Bundesliga campaign that culminated in the Meisterschale. A combination of illness and injury restricted his availability in much of 2009, but by the time Osorio returned to Mexico with CF Monterrey in summer 2010, he had nevertheless featured in 100 games for Stuttgart.

Ricardo Osorio, Bundesliga winner. - Imago

3) Aarón Galindo

Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Centre-back
Bundesliga appearances:
32 (July 2007 – December 2008)

Perhaps Galindo had heard good things about the Bundesliga from the above duo in the national team, or maybe Eintracht Frankfurt coach Friedhelm Funkel fancied a bit of Central American spice in his defence after witnessing Stuttgart’s success, but either way Galindo became the third Mexican in the Bundesliga when he signed in July 2007.

“Given the situation in our squad, with a number of defenders out injured, Galindo was brought in at the express wish of coach Funkel,” said Frankfurt’s chairman at the time, Heribert Bruchhagen.

He may have been an emergency signing from Grasshoppers Zurich but Galindo was no mere stop-gap player. Sporting the number three jersey, he made 22 Bundesliga appearances in 2007/08 to help the Eagles finish ninth. Ten more outings followed in the next season before he requested - and was allowed - to return to his homeland in December 2008 with Chivas Guadalajara.

Aarón Galindo (r.) made 32 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt, - Bongarts/Getty Images

4) Francisco ‘Maza’ Rodríguez

Club: VfB Stuttgart
Position: Centre-back
Bundesliga appearances: 40 (July 2011 – December 2012)

It was almost another three years before the next Mexican rocked up in Germany. Maza as he was known – he was born in the city of Mazatlán – sought advice from Osorio about the club when he learned of their interest, while VfB themselves pursued the deal after Pardo vouched for him.

“Before we made the signing we spoke to Pavel Pardo, who expressly recommended him and confirmed the opinions of our scouts,” said Fredi Bobic, VfB’s director of sport at the time, once the transfer was announced.

“He’s an experienced central defender. Following the loss of Matthieu Delpierre through injury, we wanted to have a further option in that position. Maza is familiar with European football and won’t need a long period of integration before he can help our team.”

Francisco ‘Maza’ Rodríguez once cut a colossal figure in the Stuttgart defence. - Bongarts/Getty Images

He certainly didn’t. The 1.91.m hulk scored two goals in 26 Bundesliga appearances in his maiden campaign and another 14 in the first half of 2012/13, although a number of those were as a substitute. Seeking to confirm his place in Mexico’s 2014 World Cup squad with more regular game time, Maza asked to leave in December 2012 and joined Club América.

5) Andrés Guardado

Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Central midfield
Bundesliga appearances: 4 (January 2014 – June 2014)

Leverkusen pulled off quite the coup in January 2014 when they tempted Guardado away from Valencia, where he had been a first-team regular. “The offer from Leverkusen was a great chance for me to start a new chapter,” said the midfielder, who was 27 at the time.

“He’s a very experienced player and his versatility fits perfectly with what we were looking for,” said sporting director Rudi Völler. “We’re sure he’ll give our team another push.” However, with Simon Rolfes, Lars Bender and Emre Can also vying for a place in central midfield, Guardado found his opportunities limited and was an unused substitute in his first six weeks after signing.

Head coach Sami Hyypiä eventually gave him his debut towards the end of March against Hoffenheim, but it was the first of just four league appearances and come the end of the season the purchase clause was not activated, with Guardado eventually joining PSV Eindhoven.

Andrés Guardado also represented Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League during his stint at the BayArena. - Getty Images

6) Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández

Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Striker
Bundesliga appearances: 54 (August 2015 – June 2017)

Chicharito had enjoyed a trophy and goal-laden period at Manchester United, but fell out of favour after Louis van Gaal arrived as manager in 2014. A year on loan at Real Madrid in 2014/15 underlined the striker’s quality, but a change in coach in the Spanish capital at the end of that season forced him to move again.

Seeking regular playing time while at the peak of his powers – Chicharito was just 27 at the time – he joined Leverkusen. “I’ve heard a lot about the fantastic stadiums in Germany and the unique fans here,” he said upon his arrival. 

“The Bundesliga is an extremely attacking league and it’s very attractive for me. It’s wonderful to now play for a club like Leverkusen, who I obviously know from the Champions League. Bayer represent a great chance for me and here I can and want to achieve great things.”

Watch: Chicharito's top-5 Bundesliga goals

It didn’t take long for him to settle. Chicharito hit the winner in a 1-0 victory over Mainz on his third Bundesliga outing, the first of 17 goals in 28 Bundesliga appearances to help Die Werkself finish third in 2015/16. He also added five in six games in the Champions League and another four in the DFB Cup.

A further 11 league goals followed in 2016/17 before he left at the end of the season to return to England with West Ham. It may have only been a short-lived spell in Germany, but his goals and charisma mean he remains a popular figure at the club.

7) Marco Fabián

Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Attacking midfield
Bundesliga appearances: 43 (January 2016 – February 2019)

Chicharito’s arrival in Germany was undoubtedly a reason for Fabián to follow suit. A fellow Guadalajara native, the pair were childhood friends and had risen up through the ranks together at Chivas. “I have a special relationship with him,” Fabián told bundesliga.com after joining Frankfurt. “He’s like a brother to me.”

Yet while Chicharito joined an attack-minded Leverkusen team, Fabián had to show his battling qualities in a Frankfurt side battling for survival. Indeed, they only stayed in the top flight that year via the relegation play-offs.

At one time, Javier Hernández (l.) and Marco Fabián (r.) were not only best friends but also Bundesliga rivals and international teammates. - AFP via Getty Images

Better days were to come, however, and Fabián ensured himself a place in Eagles fans’ hearts with an equaliser to grab a point against Bayern Munich on Matchday 7 of 2016/17, while he also scored a stunning long-range strike against Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 29 later that season.

So enamored with Frankfurt was he, in fact, that he purchased a lifetime membership at the club, while he and Carlos Salcedo - more on him in a minute - also became the first Mexicans since Pavard and Osorio to win a trophy in Germany when they helped the Eagles win the DFB Cup in 2018.

8) Carlos Salcedo

Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Position: Centre-back
Bundesliga appearances: 26 (July 2017 – January 2019)

Like Chicharito, Fabián, Guardado and Pardo, Salcedo also hails from Guadalajara. After impressing during a season with Serie A side Fiorentina in 2016/17, Salcedo – nicknamed ‘El Titan’ for his muscular 6’1” frame and no-nonsense approach to defending – joined Fabián at Eintracht in summer 2017.

“We’ve been watching Carlos for a long time and he’s made a good impression,” said Bobic, by this stage sporting director at Frankfurt. “He’s a centre-back who doesn’t shy away from a tackle. He’s a real Mexican fighter.”

The Mexican pair of Carlos Salcedo (l.) and Marco Fabián (r.) lifted the 2017/18 DFB Cup trophy with Eintracht Frankfurt. - imago/Jan Huebner

Salcedo made 20 Bundesliga appearances in his debut season – those numbers were limited by a knee injury suffered in early 2018 – but he recovered in time to play the full 90 minutes in the 3-1 DFB Cup final triumph over Bayern.

He made another six league appearances in 2018/19 before the pull of home became too strong and he asked to leave the club to return to Mexico, joining Tigres in January 2019.