Cologne - Bundesliga trio Marcelo Diaz, Miiko Albornoz and Gonzalo Jara made history with the Chilean national team on Saturday by helping La Roja win the Copa America for the first time in the country’s history.
Chile were participants in the very first Copa America tournament in 1916 but had never lifted the trophy, losing in the final four times. Their 99-year wait to be champions of South America ended at the weekend, however, after they edged Argentina in a penalty shootout following a goalless 120 minutes of football at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago.
Diaz: ‘We’re deserving champions’
Hamburger SV’s Diaz played the entirety of the game, receiving a yellow card in the first half but playing his part in keeping Lionel Messi and Co at bay thanks to a determined rearguard effort from the host. “We’re deserving champions and we showed that,” said a delighted Diaz after some memorable celebrations at the country’s national stadium. “We don’t rely on individuals in this team but on the collective. We pressed well, we stopped Argentina, one of the powers in world football and we didn’t back down. We did our jobs down to a tee.”
His team-mates, preparing for the new season at a training camp in Graubünden, Switzerland, sent the 28-year-old their congratulations via Twitter with the message, “You’re the best. We’re proud of you.”
Jara of 1. FSV Mainz 05 was suspended for the game, while Albornoz was an unused substitute. Yet nothing could deter the Hannover 96 man from sharing his joy at his first piece of international silverware on Instagram with deciding penalty-taker Alexis Sanchez, after which he was congratulated by former Hannover team-mate Lars Stindl: