Muñoz thriving through adversity
Muñoz thriving through adversity
The last thing he remembers is stretching to rummage for some chewing gum in his wife's bag. Next, on 3 June 2012, came the car crash that led to Moises Munoz and his family being airlifted to a Mexico City hospital.
Once in the Mexican capital, the Club America goalkeeper would get some bad news: he had suffered a career-threatening fractured wrist. However, far from feeling sorry for himself, the shot-stopper summoned the mental fortitude that has always been one of his hallmarks.
"Right after the accident I got a lot of support from the club, the fans and, most importantly, my whole family, who were there for me throughout the recovery process," said Munoz, one of the cornerstones of the Mexicans' cause at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015, in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.
"Ultimately all those shows of genuine affection helped me to recover as quickly as possible and to return to the pitch hungrier, with an even bigger desire for success and brimming with motivation", said the Morelia native.
A compelling comeback story
Then life handed him a second chance. The Azulcremas patiently waited for him and he was eventually able to slot back in between the sticks, his wrist fully healed. A year after the accident, the custodian gained a magnificent reward for persevering through his ordeal. With a minute of normal time to go in the second leg of the 2013 Clausura final against Cruz Azul, the Eagles found themselves on the brink of defeat. Throwing caution to the wind, Munoz camped out in the crowded opposition box, where he met a cross with a spectacular diving header that ended up in the back of the net and took the tie to penalties.
In the shoot-out, Munoz stopped the first kick and saw the second ballooned over his crossbar. A magical night was rounded off when Miguel Layun sealed victory for America and with it, their 11th title. His goal is something that Munoz still struggles to encapsulate in words. As the 35-year-old put it: "I'm very honest: so far I've never managed to [adequately] describe the emotion and feelings I experienced. It's indescribable.
"My whole body tingles every time I think about it. It was a moment that was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm and positive vibes by everyone who was in the stadium and following the match elsewhere, even non-America fans. It was all very emotional; I'll never forget it," said the Mexico international, who travelled with El Tri to the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005.
After scooping another league crown, Munoz and America would go on to taste glory in the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League. Victory over Montreal Impact in the latter booked their ticket to Japan 2015, where the keeper will hope to cap what has been a journey full of contrasting emotions in fitting fashion. "Winning the Club World Cup is the pinnacle to which we can aspire as a team; there is nothing greater. I have high expectations and am raring to go; I'm going to take to the pitch itching to shine and conscious that a good result would mark my career," he said.
International summit in sight
If you fall down, you have to get back up again and rise above. This is the ethos espoused by Munoz, who has put the tough times behind him and is now preparing for a competition featuring the cream of the crop worldwide. Indeed, far from being cowed, the shot-stopper is relishing the challenge.
"I love being under pressure. Facing adverse, difficult situations motivates me. When things are straightforward, they aren't valued that highly, whereas when something appears practically impossible on paper, that's what I most enjoy and when I tend to really come into my own," Moy said ahead of his side's game against Guangzhou Evergrande, the winner of which will take on a Barcelona team headed by Messrs Messi, Suarez and Neymar in the semi-finals.