Summary

  • With 33 goals for his national team, Eduardo Vargas is a hero in Chile.
  • The Hoffenheim forward has a street named after him in his home town.
  • The 26-year-old scored two and provided five assists in the Bundesliga this season.

Back home in Chile, Eduardo Vargas is a hero. The TSG 1899 Hoffenheim forward was named footballer of the year in 2011, when he was also the top goalscorer and the MVP of the Copa Sudamericana, in addition to being runner-up in the vote for South America's footballer of the year.

In 2015, Vargas was Chile's top-scorer as they won the Copa America for the very first time. It is hardly surprising then, that Eduardo Vargas has a street named after him in his home town of Renca. Once again, Vargas is one of the players upon whom an entire nation are vesting their hopes for the Copa America Centenario 2016.

Vargas has yet to reproduce his national team form for the clubs he has played for.

The 2016 edition will be played outside of South America for the first time with the USA hosting an event that could not have come at a better time for the 26-year-old. Vargas is looking to shine on his favourite stage and put a difficult season behind him. 24 appearances under three different coaches heralded just two goals and five assists in the Bundesliga this term.

What the statistics do not say, however, is that Vargas was regularly a real handful for opponents and, on a good day, his unpredictability was a particularly potent weapon for Hoffenheim. There were, however, plenty of days when he did not deliver the goods, and not only in Sinsheim. At Napoli (19 games/0 goals), Queens Park Rangers (21/3) and Valencia (17/3) he also failed to live up to expectations. But when he pulls on the shirt of his national team his full potential emerges.

Vargas and Chile are looking to win the Copa America for a second time in a row.

In 57 games for Chile, he has scored 33goals. The explanation, according to a national team scout, is a simple one. "The players feel important in Chile," he said. "The ideas and conviction given to them by coach Jorge Sampaoli strengthens them." Indeed, former Chile coach Sampaoli has had a particularly strong influence on Vargas' career. He was the coach who gave him his breakthrough together with Charles Aranguiz and Marcelo Diaz at Universidad de Chile.

That is a relationship he still needs to build with new Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann, but for now, Vargas has the chance to show why he remains an undisputed hero for his country at the Copa America.

And he's already shown his hand for raising team spirit, as you'll see in the video below.