Juan Francisco Palencia Hernandez is a professional footballer from Mexico who plays as a striker. Palencia is one of the most experienced members in the team and has been a regular in the Mexican national team as well.
Palencia began his playing career in 1992, when he broke into the senior team at Cruz Azul. Prior to the senior team, Palencia had been a part of Cruz Azul’s youth setup since the age of 13. Starting off slowly, Palencia would soon stamp his authority on the striker’s position in the team, staying at the club for 10 seasons, playing almost 250 league games with 91 league goals to his name.
He was also named to the Mexican national team in 1996, partnering Cuauhtémoc Blanco at the front. His debut for the national team came at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where he helped the team reach the quarterfinals. He represented Mexico at the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup as well as at the 1998 and 2003 edition of the tournament.
Palencia was also a part of the World Cup team that went to France in 1998 and to Japan in 2002. He also played for Mexico at the 1997 Confederations Cup as well as the 1999 Confederations Cup.
In 2001, Palencia was at the peak of his form and moved to Espanyol in the Spanish La Liga. A regular starter for his new side, Palencia failed to capture too much attention after scoring just 7 goals. He returned to play for Cruz Azul in 2002-03 and after that one season, moved to Club Deportivo Guadalajara.
Here, Palencia was again struggling to regain the fine form of his Cruz Azul days, and between 2003 and 2005, scored just 13 league goals while playing 73 games.
In 2005, he moved to Chivas USA, the MLS syndicate of Chivas Guadalajara, to play for two seasons in the American league. Considered by many as a retirement league for major international stars, Palencia was near the end of his career, although was still a part of the Mexican national team. The highest paid player in the MLS, in 2005, Palencia returned temporarily to Mexico in 2007 when Club Toluca decided to sign him on loan for a couple of games.
In 2007 however, Palencia decided to return to Mexico and signed up with UNAM Pumas after failing to help Toluca beat their rivals Corporacion Nuevo Cucuta Deportivo over two legs.
In terms of medals, Palencia has never had any dearth of them as he won the Rookie of the Year award in his first season in Mexico’s top division. He would go on to win the 1996-97 CONCACAF Champions Cup with Cruz Azul, as well as the Primera Division title in 1997. In 2001, he got a runners’ up medal when Cruz Azul lost to Boca Juniors at the 20o1 Copa Libertadores. With UNAM Pumas, Palencia won the 2009 Clausura title, scoring 11 goals in his tenure with the club so far.
At the international level, there have been fewer players, from Mexico, who have had an impact, like Palencia, on the national team’s fortunes. Scoring 12 goals in over 80 caps, Palencia led Mexico to 3 CONCACAF Gold Cup triumphs in 1996, 1998 and 2003. He even led them to a Confederations Cup title in 1999 and has been one of the most admired and influential players for the team so far.