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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Medford wants more good times
Hernan Medford hopes to shrug off an injury
Scoring against Sweden was the highlight of Medford's career
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It is 12 years since Costa Rica's Hernan Medford provided his country with its most glorious footballing moment.

He knows, if he wishes, that he can quite happily dine out on his winning goal against Sweden at Italia 90 for the rest of his days.

Yet, the last survivor of Costa Rica's only previous World Cup finals' experience is not content to live on past glory, even though he will be 34 when this summer's tournament comes round.

Open Quote
What was important was to be a part of my country's happiest footballing moments - football means so much to the people there
Close Quote
Hernan Medford

Indeed, the very presence of two men on the respective benches of Costa Rica and China when the Ticos play their opening group game in Gwangju on 4 June will provide Medford with his chief inspiration.

Costa Rica's most capped and celebrated footballer is in awe of his current national boss, former team-mate Alexandre Guimaraes, and his China counterpart, ex-Ticos coach Bora Milutinovic.

"Alex is one of the best players Costa Rica has produced and the most skilful passer of the ball I've ever played with," Medford told BBC Sport Online.

"He is also a friend and that makes me demand more of myself as I must repay his confidence."

His equal respect for Milutinovic has not been dimmed by the passing of time, either.

"He's unique, one of the best bosses, and Costa Rica owe him, we all owe him. I'm really looking forward to meeting him again."

Of course, Milutinovic will now be in a rival camp, but they were all on the same side in Genoa back on 20 June 1990, when Costa Rica, who had already defeated Scotland, scored two late goals.

Alex Guimaraes
Medford says coach Guimaraes was Costa Rica's best-ever player

They beat Sweden and qualified, against all the odds, alongside Brazil for the second phase of the World Cup.

Both Medford and Guimaraes were substitutes, and when Milutinovic sent them on in the second-half, the Ticos trailed Sweden 1-0.

It proved an inspired move by the Central Americans' Serbian coach. They were both outstanding as Costa Rica turned the game around, Medford grabbing the 87th-minute winner.

It was a day he will never forget. Indeed, it matters more than all the rest of his 74-cap career.

"What was important was to be a part of my country's happiest footballing moments," Medford said.

"Football means so much to the people here."

The midfielder is a veteran of Dinamo Zagreb, Rapid Vienna, Foggia and Rayo Vallecano, whom he helped to Primera promotion under current Spain boss Jose Antonio Camacho.

Open Quote
I scored our first goal in a major tournament - it was a beautiful experience
Close Quote
Hernan Medford

He has also played for Mexican sides Pachuca, Leon and Necaxa.

His place in his country's affections was, in fact, assured long ago, after scoring in the under-17 world championships in 1985.

"I scored our first ever goal in a major tournament," Medford said. "It was a beautiful experience."

And qualification for Japan and South Korea, pipping Mexico and the USA to the Concacaf qualifying top spot, was yet another one.

"Three-and-a-half million people in Costa Rica were overjoyed. Now we are desperate to do well for them," said Medford, who is currently battling with a knee injury.

Indeed, it seems he is willing to risk his own health for the chance of more "beautiful experiences".

A doctor has told Medford he could wreck his knee completely unless he undergoes surgery in April and foregoes the chance of a second World Cup appearance.

Medford, though, appears willing to take the gamble.

The man, who after a decade abroad was so keen to return to his homeland that he paid his own 50,000 transfer to cash-strapped Deportivo Saprissa, is just too big a legend to leave behind.

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GROUP C
  P GD PTS
BRAZIL 3 +8 9
TURKEY 3 +2 4
COSTA RICA 3 -1 4
CHINA 3 -9 0

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