As a teenager, Teofimo Lopez was introduced to soccer through other means. He watched the World Cup on television and fell in love with the sport. When he was 9 years old, his father took him to the small village of El Pasoás in the mountains of southern Mexico. There, Lopez played for local teams, eventually running up four championship belts by the time he was 16. A short time later, at the age of 17, he won his first professional title — a silver belt — in the Mexican amateur amateur championships.
That and 12 other belts have kept Lopez busy for the past two decades. He remains on the first roster of the smallest professional leagues in Mexico, the Nacional Premier Club League. On Oct. 4, his 46th birthday, he began his 31st professional season, playing for his hometown club, Guadalajara, in a division that is not by any means comparable to Mexico’s Superliga Serie A or the giant Mexican leagues, the Mexican Clausura or the Mexican Clausura Xtreme.
His accomplishments are impressive, but Lopez, now 32, said he makes due.
“I am so tired,” he said in a recent interview. “Playing every day. Every weekend. At least six games. And I am not just lying. In the Central League, a player has to do time off to recover.”
As a teenager, Lopez was a striking, “type of player that some people call a ‘wild player’ on the ball,” according to Deporte ESPN. He gained a reputation for knocking balls past opposing defenses. He has also been known for scoring, not always straightaway, as teams have tried to squelch his wild style of play.
For Lopez, the fruits of his labor have been tangible — four titles, 23 championships in all in Mexico. He also made waves in Brazil, setting a second-division record for most goals in a season (37) and at one point being dubbed the greatest soccer player in Brazil, by an English newspaper, when he scored 40 goals in 40 games. There are 15 or more people whom he considers his competitors: “Psychologically, I have to beat them.”
Lopez also enjoys watching soccer in his home country, which is not unusual for the passionate athlete, though one would be hard-pressed to find a piece of modern Mexican soccer history that incorporates Lopez’s feats. At the end of a friendly match against Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps, Lopez held up his first two titles — one silver, one gold — in one hand and his first professional cup, a silver cup, in the other. To cap it off, he turned his neck toward the sky, put on his signature hat and carried it into the stands.
Click here to read the full story on ESPN Deportes.