Guillermo Ochoa is headed back to where it all started.
The 34-year-old goalkeeper has made the move back to Club America, the team he made his professional debut for in 2004, from Belgian club Standard Liege. America announced the move Tuesday night with a social media campaign #Hace8Años, a pun based on Ochoa's last name with ocho being the Spanish word for eight.
It was eight years ago when Ochoa left the club to embark on a career in Europe, joining Ligue 1 side Ajaccio. His time in France was the first step of a European career that would take him from there to Spain and on to Belgium. Now, he's back in Mexico City - reportedly as the highest-paid player in all of Liga MX.
Ochoa's time with the European clubs often was been up and down, but with the Mexico national team he has appeared to be one of the top goalkeepers in the world. His performances at the 2014 World Cup, including a legendary showing in a group match against Brazil that ended scoreless, plus the work put in at the 2018 World Cup, have put him among El Tri's best goalkeepers all-time along with players like Jorge Campos, Oswaldo Sanchez and Antonio Carbajal.
The goalkeeper remains the Mexico No. 1, recently helping the team to the 2019 Gold Cup title. While he played in the Europa League with Standard last season, America was eager to woo him back to Liga MX and now has achieved its goal.
"Club America informs that it arrived at an agreement with the Belgian team Standard Liege for the definitive purchase of the Mexican goalkeeper Francisco Guillermo Ochoa Magana," a club statement read. "Memo Ochoa is without a doubt one of the most beloved players by the fans and one of the references of 'Americanismo' in recent years, formed in our academy, the goalkeeper played the first stage of his career with the Azulcrema with 281 matches, earning the 2005 Clausura, 2005 Campeon de Campeones and 2006 Concacaf titles."
Bringing Ochoa back to the club is a major coup for an America side that won the league in the Apertura but has recently suffered a number of blows. In addition to goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin leaving the club, whose No. 1 job Ochoa will fill, Las Aguilas also sold midfielder Mateus Uribe to Porto, promising defender Edson Alvarez to Ajax and veteran forward Oribe Peralta to Chivas this summer. Up-and-coming winger Diego Lainez was moved on to Real Betis in the winter.
That leaves few familiar faces for casual America fans to latch onto, even after signing former Mexico star Giovani dos Santos in the summer, but Ochoa is one of the most recognizable faces not only to America fans but to supporters of Mexican soccer as a whole.
A Guadalajara native, Ochoa move to the capital to join the America academy and was handed his professional debut by Leo Beenhakker in 2004 when the shot-stopper was just 18. Not long after he won the full-time starting job. He earned his debut cap for the national team in 2005 and went to the 2006 World Cup as the third goalkeeper. By 2009, he was starting, winning the Gold Cup with Mexico as he began the run to the 106 caps he has to his name today.
Ochoa could take the gloves as soon as Sunday when Las Aguilas travel to face Toluca. Days later, they'll head to Atlanta to take on Atlanta United in the Campeones Cup.