IT was a season to remember for Gabriel Piccolo as he helped Partick Thistle retain their Premiership place last term.

Now the Mexican star hopes he will have another reason to celebrate this summer as his countrymen star at the World Cup.

The 24-year-old has watched as Miguel Herrera's side have progressed to the knockout stages in Brazil, taking a point from the hosts as they emerged from a group that also contained Croatia and Columbia.

Captained by legendary stopper Rafa Marquez, the Mexicans have caught the eye despite all the attention on their more illustrious South American neighbours.

The Mexicans will face an in-form Holland side in Fortaleza tomorrow as they bid for a place in the last eight of the competition.

And Jags star Piccolo is confident El Tricolor can shine once again as they look to upset Louis van Gaal's side.

He said: "It has been very good for Mexico so far. They deserve to be there and, with their performances, I think they can go far in the World Cup.

"The manager and these players are working very well and I always thought they would have a very good tournament.

"Marquez has been a very good player all his career, he is a leader and it is impressive he is at his fourth World Cup. Everyone respects him so much in Mexico.

"I think it is a good thing for Mexico that the likes of Brazil and Argentina are getting all the focus.

"I think there could be a surprise winner - it may or may not be Mexico, but there are many teams doing great and there could be a surprise.

"But I'm not sure if Mexico winning the World Cup would be better than Thistle staying up!

"It would be huge for the country and for Mexican sport. I think it is possible one day, as there is a huge potential in Mexico in many sports and now it is time for Mexico to start achieving."

Just hours after Piccolo watches his country in action on the biggest stage of all, the defender will return to Firhill to begin his preparations for the new Premiership campaign.

The former Club America and Rayo Vallecano defender enjoyed a solid first season in Scotland after being snapped up by boss Alan Archibald last summer.

Piccolo played his part as Thistle retained their top-flight status and he is confident next term will be even better for him and for the Firhill men.

He said: "We have had our own style since the beginning and we worked very hard last season.

"We did have our struggles but we got what we wanted at the end and we were very happy.

"It was great to be able to help the team and be part of the achievement.

"We want to keep improving and achieving more and do even better things next year.

"Scottish football is better than I expected. I learned a lot and now I want to get better and have more influence in the team.

"Every player improves when they have regular games. I have much more to give and, with regular games, I will prove that."