The excellent, Andries Oosterveen returns to provide a profile of the legendary Enrique Meza….
At the age of 66 Enrique Meza Enríquez or Ojitos (due to his sharp eyes) as he is more commonly known, is still coaching successfully at Pachuca in Mexico’s domestic football league Liga MX. To many outsiders he is relatively unknown but here in Mexico his name, reputation, management style and record are well known, respected and documented, especially with supporters of Deportivo Toluca and Pachuca.
As a player he was a goalkeeper and played for both Cruz Azul and UANL or Tigres between 1967 and 1981.
Since his management career started in 1982 he has coached several teams but it was not until he managed Toroz Neza that his coaching career started to really kick on. His highly offensive and attacking strategy got Toroz Neza to a final but they lost in a very high scoring game to Chivas Guadalajara. That same strategy would later bring him much more success.
Until now Meza has coached several teams in Mexico and even had two small stints as coach of the Mexican national team, which were largely unsuccessful, but he was able to draw with reigning World Champions Spain at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. At club level he has achieved a variety of successes, failures and disappointments and his travels have taken him to Cruz Azul four times, Deportivo Toluca three times, both Morelia and Toroz Neza once and he is now in his second spell as coach of Pachuca where he has been coaching since 2013.
The highlights of his career to date have been at Deportivo Toluca and Pachuca. In his first coaching stint at Deportivo Toluca, Meza won the league title three times in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and with the same attacking strategy that he used back at Toroz Neza. On his third return to coach Toluca in 2012, they finished top of the league and in the playoffs reached the final where they lost to Tijuana over two legs.
Between 2006 and 2009 when Meza was manager at Pachuca they won the Copa Sudamericana Championship in 2006, making them the first ever Mexican football club to win a CONMEBOL title. In 2007 Pachuca won their second CONCACAF title and fifth league title and then later on in August 2007 Pachuca beat the MLS team Los Angeles Galaxy to win their first ever Superliga title. In 2008 Pachuca also reclaimed their CONCACAF Cup but in Meza’s final year there in 2009, Pachuca lost the final of the league championship to Mexico City’s UNAM. All in all a great time to have been a Pachuca fan and definitely not a quiet time for the team from Hidalgo especially those working in the club’s trophy room.
Apart from the Mexican national team and Morelia, Meza has either coached a team to a final and at least won a trophy. His management style even now is clearly still a success and more recent proof is of Meza guiding Pachuca to yet another final in 2013 against Leon where they eventually lost.
His record speaks for itself and he is currently ranked fourth in the list of Mexican football’s most successful managers. What is also clear and nice to see is that all this success coming at club’s who are not from the capital or Guadalajara and again cements the notion that there is a lot of talent and teams with title winning potential away from the cities.
Andries is a 37 year old Dutchman and has been living in Mexico for the last 6 years with his fiancee. Previously he spent most of his life living, travelling and working all over the world in a variety of countries including Vietnam, Australia and South Africa. He has been writing for Golazo Mexicano, Total Dutch Football and Soccerlens since July 2014.