World Cup 2014: Red-hot Chileans from the past and present

Leonel Sanchez, Elias Figueroa, Marcelo Salas, Ivan Zamorano and Alexis Sanchez make our list of top Chileans from the past and present.
Chile's Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring a goal during the international friendly soccer match between England and Chile at Wembley Stadium in London. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Chile's Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring a goal during the international friendly soccer match between England and Chile at Wembley Stadium in London. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

Leonel Sanchez

Chile’s most-capped player, the striker fired his national team to third place at the 1962 World Cup. On home soil, Sanchez netted four goals to finish alongside four others at the top of the scoring charts. Sanchez was a key figure in the “Battle of Santiago”, when Sanchez, the son of a professional boxer, flattened an Italian opponent with a punch.

Elias Figueroa

Recognised as one of the finest defenders the game has produced, the Chilean represented his country at three World Cups – 1966, 1974 and 1982 – captaining his side at the latter. Pele once said of him: “If Figueroa would have won a World Cup, he would be the best defender in history.”

Marcelo Salas

“El Matador” was a bullish forward with poise and a prodigious leap. In 13 years with Chile, he scored 37 goals in 71 matches, making him his country’s most-prolific striker. Salas excelled before and at the 1998 World Cup, registered 11 goals in qualification and then managed another four at the finals in France.

Ivan Zamorano

Worked brilliantly in tandem with Salas. Zamorano captained Chile to the 1998 finals and finished his international career in 2001, with 34 goals in 69 matches to sit second on his country’s scoring list.

Alexis Sanchez

Should eventually rival Salas and Zamorano for top-scoring honours, the Barcelona forward carries the hopes of his country in Brazil. Sanchez is an explosive frontman, equally adept up top or out wide. Has been in fine form for club and country over the past year, with 19 goals in Spain’s Primera Liga and eight goals in 11 games for Chile. In November, he notched a double against England at Wembley, matching Salas’s 1998 feat, and taking his career tally to 22.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Published: May 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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