After exploring the main defensive culprit of our dreadful relegation in the form of Matthew Upson last week, this week, we look further forward to attack and more especially: Pablo Barrera. Who was this little-known Mexican winger? How did he help to make our torrid demise? And where is he now?
A youthful Barrera started his career in his native Mexico with Mexico City based Primera Division Side Club Universidad Nacional. The starlet made his debut in the Top-Flight in 2005, appearing UNAM’s 8-0 victory over Veracruz. His impressive performances soon earned the quick-paced winger a call up to the Mexico squad for the 2007 FIFA U19 World Cup. Barrera would score two times in the tournament as his side were knocked out in the Quarter Finals, the competition also saw the birth of the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria. However, no such star would be born out of the young Mexican, despite early promise.
2008 saw Barrera’s first injury-struck year of his career, as a cruciate ligament injury in his left-knee left him sidelined for six months. However, the Chiapas-born winger would hit the ground running upon his return and would soon score his first goal at senior international level.
Having made his full international debut against Guatemala two-years earlier, his first goal came against Nicaragua in The CONCACAF Gold Cup. A year later, Barrera would make three appearances at The 2010 World Cup in South-Africa, but these were mostly off the bench with little success. A year after that and with the agile forward still in the frame for Jose Manuel De La Torre’s national side, he would score three goals in his second Gold Cup including a brace in the Final triumph over the USA. However, After his move to East-London, the then 23-year-old struggled to maintain a regular place for Mexico.
Anyway, back to the domestic trials and tribulations of the poacher and following his antics on the international stage, Barrera attracting interest from top European clubs. One of them was us, with the £5 million signing being announced in the summer of 2010, the player would prove to be one of Avram Grant’s first signings as boss. There was much excitement from Hammers at the exotic new-signing, but this was to be short-lived after his woeful debut performance in the opening day defeat at Villa Park and this was just to be a sign of things to come.
Barrera would go onto have a dismal first and only season in The Premier League, with only six starts, no goals and plenty of stick from fans. Following our relegation to The Championship and to the delight of Hammers up and down the land, the flop was sent out on loan for the season to Spanish outfit Real Zaragoza. Another very poor spell in a European League would follow for the striker and he was released on returning to Upton Park in summer 2012.
A return to his home land of Mexico was to follow for Barrera, with Cruz Azul, Monterrey and then a reunion with UNAM. Nowadays, the 30-year-old is still playing Football in the First Division of Mexico with the club where it all started-the afore mentioned Club Nacional.
Pablo Barrera, even though still in his playing days, is a name that has already been forgotten by many Hammers and wants to be forgotten by many others. He remains a constant reminder to the fact that our poor recruitment would cost us dearly in the 2010/2011 Premier League campaign, just as it almost did last season.