Rafa Marquez says he's still hoping to make Mexico's squad for the World Cup but also has come to grips with the idea that it may not happen.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Marquez as a front man for an alleged drug cartel kingpin earlier in the summer, a category that does not charge Marquez with a crime but does restrict his travel and freezes many of his assets.
He's since been cleared to play in Liga MX matches with Atlas and has regained access to many of his previously frozen bank accounts. But Marquez, who turned 39 earlier this week, still is unable to travel to the United States and likely could not go to other countries because of the designation.
"Yes, I still see myself playing with the national team," Marquez told ESPN Mexico. "It would be an important close to my career as well, but I’m also not clinging on to hope of what might happen. I know the present situation and I'm going to keep enjoying this magnificent sport."
"El Kaiser de Michoacan" is the only player to wear the captain's armband in four World Cups and would join Lothar Matthaus this summer as the only field players to have appeared in five World Cups.
"It would be something beautiful, something important, but I also think that what I've done over the course of my career leaves me content, not grasping for this final dream," he said.
In addition to appearing in four World Cups with Mexico, Marquez won league titles in stops at Monaco, Barcelona and Leon. He was a part of two UEFA Champions League wins during his time at Barcelona.
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio has left the door open for a return, but even if Marquez's legal situation were to clear up, it could be difficult for him to make the squad.
Marquez returned from injury to suit up for Atlas in a 1-1 draw Tuesday against Necaxa, playing at center back. He is still working back to full fitness, though, and with Osorio already facing difficult choices about who will make the final 23-man roster, the manager could find it difficult to include an out-of-form player.