Not a lot of Mexican national team players speak English.
Yes, I know. That's a shocking revelation.
But it represents more than just where the players hail from and their upbringing. It shows the average Mexican international and their lack of experience abroad, though it is something that is quickly changing.
Still, over the years Mexican internationals have played domestically in overwhelming numbers. Up until 18 months ago, the number of Mexicans abroad for several years was pretty much one - Rafael Marquez. After the 2006 World Cup, European clubs wised up and gave players contracts. Some worked out (Carlos Salcido), some didn't (Kikin Fonseca). But nonetheless the doors continued opening and now other players are crossing the Atlantic (most notably Andres Guardado).
While they are in their new lands, chances are the players will become bilingual. It just makes sense - if you are going to work in Germany and live in Germany, you may as well speak German. So now for every country save Spain where Mexicans go, perhaps they will pick up the local language.
Yet for all the inroads Mexicans have made, El Typical Tri player still hasn't gotten a shot at England. Perhaps Jared Borgetti ruined it for Mexicans, with his ill-fated stint with Bolton.
Now another Mexican comes along and finally has the chance to fix whatever mess Borgetti left. Nery Castillo is property of Manchester City now, albeit on a loan basis. How he'll do remains to be seen but my guess is he'll do just fine. Castillo isn't exactly your typical tri player, though. Hardly, actually. He was born in Mexico, moved to Uruguay when he was young, came up with a Uruguayan club and went off to Greece where he found success.
Now, I have no idea how many languages Castillo speaks. My guess is two - Spanish and Greek. Maybe somewhere along the line he picked up another language or three. But if English isn't one of them, perhaps in a year's time he'll speak English fluently.
He'd join some select company among his international teammates.
It used to be you could count on one hand the number of regular Mexican national team players who spoke English. A couple of reporter friends joked that at the 1998 World Cup they always chased down Luis Garcia because he spoke English. My buddies didn't know it then apparently but Francisco Palencia also speaks English fluently and has since he was young.
Gerardo Torrado speaks English, but he is pretty temperamental and many times won't answer in English. Incidentally, temperamental is a nice way of saying he's an asshole.
Rafael Marquez also speaks English and he tends to be pretty talkative.
Pavel Pardo speaks pretty good English. It's broken English, of course, but he strings together sentences just fine. I was impressed because I wouldn't have thought he knew the language.
Paco Palencia, though, probably speaks the language the best of all those minus Garcia. Haven't ever heard him talk. Moises Munoz of Morelia also speaks English pretty good. He lived here, in Redwood City, Calif., from fourth grade through middle school. But these last two probably have seen their last days with El Tri so it'll only do my English-speaking colleagues good to track them down during InterLiga.
There are probably some more Mexican internationals who could read this blog entry just fine that I don't know about. Potentially Nery Castillo could be among them.
So why is it important and significant if Nery Castillo speaks English? If he is able to communicate with the English-speaking media both here in the US and in England, more people would become familiar with him through reading stories on him or watching interviews with him. And with the rivalry that exists between the US and Mexico, it would be great if Mexico's best players spoke English.
The US's best player, Landon Donovan, speaks Spanish and he's hounded by Spanish-speaking media. If similar circumstances were reversed and English-speaking media in the US approached Castillo and Marquez with the same tenacity as their Spanish-speaking colleagues, there'd be much more intrigue and drama surrounding US-Mexico games than there already is.