- Vidal is set to be one of the stars of this summer's Copa America.
- The Chilean is looking to continue his run of domestic success with his national team.
- He is regarded as a hero back home in Chile, and could become a legend.
A tattoo inferring he may actually be a superhero is accompanied by another, with his nickname. "Guerrero" – warrior – occupies much of Arturo Vidal's right upper-arm, with little of his body not showing some form of bold decoration.
He is equally brazen and warrior-like on the field of play, but those who know him best off the green rectangle speak of a caring and committed family man. Further examination of his array of tattoos suggest the real Vidal is indeed written all over him.
Above his nickname, he has an image of his mother Jacqueline Pardo tattooed to his arm. Vidal was still a young boy when his father left the family home, forcing his mother to raise him, together with his five siblings, all by herself - not an easy task for a single mother in the poor suburbs of Santiago de Chile.
Football helped him escape a rough daily life and offered an opportunity to escape the poverty and give his family a better life. Starting out playing on pebbles, stones and concrete - essentially any area of land large enough - Vidal's natural talent helped him find a way into the youth academy of Chilean giants Colo-Colo at the age of 13. He made his debut in the professional team at 18, after which his career has gone from strength to strength.
After winning the Chilean title two years in a row, Europe's top clubs were alerted to his talent. Bayer 04 Leverkusen were among them and it was they who convinced Vidal to leave his family behind and move to Germany at the age of 20. It was a difficult but ultimately the right choice as his four years with Die Werkself moulded him into one of the world's best midfielders.
Juventus developed him further in four years – and as many Scudettos (league titles) – before he moved to FC Bayern München last summer, having just become a hero back home. Vidal is part of a golden generation of Chilean talent which lifted a maiden Copa America title in July 2015. Back in his home community of San Joaquin, they have just renamed their stadium after him: the Estadio Municipal Arturo Vidal.
At Bayern, he is following the path from hero to legend, with the record German champions' sporting director Matthias Sammer branding him a "born winner", although others felt his largely physical game may not fit in. For Juve, Vidal picked up a total of 53 yellow cards and one red. At Leverkusen, he was booked 46 times and sent off three.
"I don't think I have to change my style of play," said Vidal, shrugging off the concerns. Subtly, he did make some alterations, with the statistics proving he is a reformed character, without taking any dimension off his natural game. Indeed, with just three yellow cards in the Bundesliga, Vidal has been one of the fairest players in the league this season in his position, thanks in no small part to his mentor in this first year back in the Bundesliga. "I've learnt a lot from Pep Guardiola," Vidal said recently. "He's a coach who really studies the game and explains things to you really well, which is why he's the best in the world."
Guardiola could not imagine a team-sheet without Vidal's name not on it towards the end of the season, while he took him back to his footballing roots at times by fielding him as an anchor man in front of the defence for key UEFA Champions League games against his former club Juve and SL Benfica. "I've really come on as a player," admitted the 28-year-old, who this season became the first Chilean to win the Bundesliga. "That's because I'm playing in such a good team – the best team in the world as far as I'm concerned."
Vidal is in good company when on international duty too, and having set the bar very high in the last Copa America, the expectations are even higher this time around. "We want to show what made us the best team in the Americas last time," Vidal proclaimed. "The Chile national team has got to get used to winning titles." Just like Vidal has, with five domestic league crowns in a row, and no end in sight for a man who wears his heart – and much more besides – on his sleeve.