MEXICO CITY (AP) — He's a nightclubber, a joker, a charismatic rags-to-riches soccer star. Now Cuauhtemoc Blanco wants to be mayor of one of Mexico's more prominent cities, Cuernavaca.
Blanco, who at 42 is still an active player in Mexico's top professional league, was formally nominated for mayor on Saturday by small Social Democrat Party.
Blanco, who currently plays limited minutes off the bench for the Puebla team, grew up in a famously tough neighborhood of Mexico City and made his name with the capital's most storied team, America, as well as with his performance on the national team in three World Cups.
For years, his life off the field of partying and flings with Mexican actresses garnered almost as many headlines as his play and that reputation, along with his lack of political experience, raised doubts among some, but his supporters say that he knows how to lead.
"Since the announcement, there are those who take it as a joke, like a circus," said Eduardo Bordonave, president of the party in Morelos state. "The criticisms are in the sense of whether he is prepared to govern. I believe he is prepared because he is a leader."
Blanco said Saturday he has lived for 10 years in the city of about 350,000 people that has long served as a resort getaway for residents of the capital, as well as foreign tourists.
"Here, they're going to have me working day and night for the people," he said.
Known for being friendly and playful, he has taken on the role of locker room leader at Puebla, though he has played only 59 minutes in eight games. He debuted with America in 1992 and won the championship with them in 2005. Outside of Mexico, he also had stints with Valladolid in Spain and the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.
"I don't know how good a politician he would be, but what I do know is that at least he won't rob us, because he doesn't need to," said Armando Herrera, a 44-year-old businessman. "There are some that we hoped would be good and turned out bad, maybe this time it will be the opposite."