These players have etched their names in the history books of the competition.
The 2021 Copa America is around the corner and Brazil are all set to host the major international tournament. Earlier, the competition was due to be played in Colombia and Argentina. However, the former backed out due to social unrest while the latter cited a surge in COVID-19 cases. With just a fortnight before it kicks off, the CONMEBOL confirmed that Brazil will host the Copa America once again. A number of highest scorers in the tournament will take part in the competition this year.
As excitement builds up, Khel Now takes a look at the top five highest goalscorers of the tournament of all-time. Speaking of highest goalscorers, one would imagine stars like Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Neymar, Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez dominating the list. However, that isn’t the case as surprisingly, none of them makes the list. So, then who makes the cut? Let’s take a quick look.
5. Paolo Guerrero (Peru) – 14
Peruvian talisman Paolo Guerrero is the only active player in the top five highest scorers in Copa America of all time. The 37-year-old might as well be playing his final tournament for the country of his career. He does have a chance to become the all-time highest goalscorer in the competition in history.
Interestingly, Peru missed out on the title last time, falling at the final hurdle against Brazil. However, this time Guerrero will be hoping to lead the side to their first Copa America title since 1975. This could turn out to be his career’s greatest ever tournament considering what’s at stake.
5. Eduardo Vargas (Chile) – 14
The 31-year-old striker joins the list as one of the top five highest scorers in Copa America history after netting two goals in this year’s edition. Both of his goals came in the group stage in the 1-1 draws against Argentina and Uruguay respectively. Vargas, who was part of Chile’s Copa America title-winning team of 2015 and 2016, scored his maiden Copa America goal against Ecuador in 2015. Since then he has netted at least one goal in each of the last four editions of the tournament.
3. Severino Varela (Uruguay) – 15
Former Uruguayan footballer Severino Varela is currently at the third spot in the list of top five highest scorers in Copa America of all time. Varela featured for Uruguay almost a century ago and had a distinguished seven-year national team career.
The striker became popular during his stints with Uruguayan outfit Penarol as well as Argentine side Boca Juniors. Varela passed away in 1995 at the age of 81, but his record phenomenal goalscoring record stands till date.
3. Lolo Fernandez (Peru) – 15
Another Peruvian legend Teodoro ‘Lolo’ Fernandez finds himself in the Copa America history books. Spending 12 years with the national team, Fernandez netted 15 goals in what was known as the South American Football Championship until 1975.
Teodoro Fernandez featured in six editions of the tournament and made 24 appearances in the competition. The prolific forward passed away in 1996 and his compatriot Paolo Guerrero has been carrying his legacy ever since. Regardless of whether Guerrero succeeds in surpassing his goalscoring record this time, Fernandez has already made his name as one of the greatest in Peruvian football history.
1. Zizinho (Brazil) – 17
Thomas Soares da Silva, popularly known as Zizinho, was considered as one of the best Brazilian footballers before Pele’s phenomenal rise. In a national team career that spanned 15 years, Zizinho won six major international titles with Brazil. In 1950, he was part of the Selecao squad that finished runners-up in the FIFA World Cup.
However, it is his goalscoring record in the Copa America that earned him fame and is still remembered for his incredible feat. In fact, the legendary Pele himself, in an obituary, stated that Zizinho was the best player he ever saw play.
1. Norberto Mendez (Argentina) – 17
Along with Zizinho, Argentine legend Norberto Mendez is the joint-highest goalscorer in Copa America of all-time with 17 goals. The late forward achieved the feat while he led La Albiceleste to three Copa America titles. Apart from that, Mendez is also the 10th highest goalscorer in Argentine football history.
Mendez plied his trade for domestic outfits like Huracan and Racing Club and had a national team career that lasted more than a decade. His record in the Copa America, however, is currently under threat with Peru’s Paolo Guerrero closing in. In addition, Chile’s Eduardo Vargas, who has 12 goals to his name in the competition, also finds himself in the race to rewrite history.
**The article was last updated on July 11, 12:23 PM IST