No regrets for Rafa Marquez over Cobi Jones head-butt in 2002 World Cup
Almost 16 years have passed since Rafa Marquez launched a head-butt towards Cobi Jones as the United States defeated Mexico 2-0 in the round-of-16 game at the 2002 World Cup, but the Mexican still doesn't regret a thing.
Mexico was already 2-0 down in the 88th minute with the game slipping away when Marquez launched into Jones in one of the most iconic moments in the history of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry.
"My act of frustration would've never changed the score if it hadn't have happened and I don't regret it," Marquez said in an interview with ESPN's John Sutcliffe. "I learned from it. Not controlling [myself] and not being able to lose is part of my character."
Marquez said that even before the game in Jeonju there was a strange feeling in the Mexican camp as El Tri attempted to get to the quarterfinal of the World Cup for the first time outside of Mexico.
"I think before the game when we knew that we'd be playing the United States, inside we realized the difficulty of facing an uncomfortable opponent," Marquez said. "Obviously, we'd played games in which it was difficult to beat the United States and they've always been our greatest rival.
"From the start, things became complicated with that [eighth-minute Brian McBride] goal. Then the sudden change that Javier [Aguirre] made [with Ramon Morales going off for Luis Hernandez in the 28th minute]. It was a strange feeling.
"Later, obviously we all know the frustration I let out almost at the end of the game."
Marquez said that his competitive nature is the reason why he reacted as he did.
"My personality has always been very demanding," he said. "I don't like to lose even at marbles. No one likes to lose and especially not against your archival, like the United States was then. It was an unfortunate action."
Marquez is currently with Mexico in Russia preparing for Sunday's opening game against Germany, in which the 39-year-old could become just the third player to play in five men's World Cups.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.