Dubbed ‘The Rabbit’, Oscar Perez has been a regular in Mexico’s Liga MX for more than two decades. The nickname came about as a result of the talented shot-stoppers impressive warm-up routine, in which he would leap upwards and touch the crossbar with his feet, despite standing at just 5ft 7in. Perez has since become one of the most well known goalkeepers in Mexico, having amassed more than 700 appearances for club and country, yet the veteran keeper is still yet to have hung up his boots, having continued his playing career well into his 40s.
The 43-year-old shot-stopper started his professional career at Mexico City based club Cruz Azul in 1993, and soon emerged as the side’s first choice keeper following an impressive debut against Club Atlas, in which he immediately picked up his first senior clean sheet. With Perez between the sticks, Cruz Azul progressed steadily over the next few seasons, finishing runners-up in the league in the 1994/95 season.
However, the 1996/97 campaign was by far their most successful year with Perez guarding the goal, as they beat Club Atlas, Atlante F.C. and table-toppers Club León to clinch the Primera Division de Mexico winter title for the eighth time in the club’s history. However, that wasn’t the only trophy that the club won, as they also lifted the Copa MX, Mexico’s cup competition, for the first time in almost 30 years. Although, Perez’s biggest club achievement came in the CONCACAF Champions League, when the club won the prestigious continental tournament back-to-back in 1996 and 1997.
With famed shot-stopper Jorge Campos to compete with during the early stages of his career, it took a while for Perez to earn a starting place in the Mexico national team squad. In fact, he was awarded his first two international winners’ medals in the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the subsequent FIFA Confederations Cup tournament despite having failed to make a single appearance.
However, by 2002 Mexico boss Javier Aguirre had installed Perez as his first choice keeper for the Korea/Japan World Cup, in which they progressed to the Round of 16 stage before suffering a 2-0 defeat to the United States. Although, following another victory in the 2003 Gold Cup, Aguirre’s departure from the international set-up would ultimately lose Perez his starting spot. Incoming boss Ricardo La Volpe took a liking to Oswaldo Sánchez, who had been competing alongside Perez to replace Campos.
Perez would eventually lose his place in the Mexico squad altogether by the time the 2006 World Cup came around. With his lengthy stay at Cruz Azul beginning to wind down, the veteran goalkeeper’s career appeared to be coming to an end by the time the 2010 tournament rolled around.
Though, with Perez considering retirement at the end of the 2008/09 season after a loan spell with UANL Tigres, The Rabbit was handed a lifeline, as his former boss Aguirre had returned for a second stint as Mexico manager. After persuading him to continue his playing career, Aguirre named Perez in his 2010 World Cup squad to act as a source of inspiration to the younger players in the dressing room, yet some stellar performances in the run-up to the tournament once again earned him the starting spot.
With a renewed passion for the game after once again guiding Mexico to the Round of 16 stage, Perez decided to continue playing for as long as he could, despite that fact that he was no longer wanted at Cruz Azul. A number of loan spells later and he would find himself at Pachuca, after impressing while on loan at the club for the 2013/14 season.
Aged 43, Perez is now the oldest active player in Liga MX, having made over 100 appearances for his new club. Yet, with Pachuca impressing in the 2015/16 Liga MX Torneo Clausura, there is nothing to suggest that Perez’s time at the top is drawing to a close.