Some big players have never won Copa America

12 players we can’t believe have never won Copa America: Neymar, Maradona, Pele…

The Copa America is one of the most prestigious international tournaments and you’d be surprised by how many big names have failed to win the competition.

It took Lionel Messi six attempts until he ultimately won it with Argentina in 2021, proving just how difficult the trophy is to win.

We’ve taken a closer look at the history of Copa America and have found 12 players we can’t believe have never won the famous competition.


The biggest name of the modern generation to never get his hands on the prestigious prize. While Brazil have won the Copa America in recent history, Neymar wasn’t part of their squad in 2019 due to injury.

He came agonisingly close to winning it in 2021, but Brazil narrowly lost the final to Argentina thanks to a first half Angel Di Maria winner.

Unfortunately, he won’t get the chance to win it this year either as he’s been left out of Dorival Junior’s squad because of injury. Some players just can’t catch a break.

Brazil XI Players Left Out of the 2024 Copa America squad featuring Manchester United midfielder Casemiro

READ: An outrageously brilliant XI of players left out of Brazil’s Copa America squad

Diego Maradona

Renowned for his exploits in the 1986 World Cup, surprisingly, Maradona never lifted the Copa America with Argentina.

One year after winning the World Cup in 1986, Argentina were heavily fancied to win the Copa America in 1987, especially with the tournament taking place on home soil.

However, despite Maradona scoring three goals, Argentina fell short in the semi-final and lost 1-0 to eventual winners Uruguay.


Despite boasting one of the greatest international records of all time, with a trophy cabinet that contains three World Cup trophies, Pele never got his hands on the Copa America trophy.

He only played in one tournament and was the top scorer that year in 1959, but Brazil ultimately lost out to Argentina that year.

Javier Mascherano

Only eight players have made more Copa America appearances in the history of the competition than Mascherano has. The versatile Argentine finished as a runner-up on four separate occasions from 2004 to 2016.

Despite being one of the most consistent performers in international football, the big prizes always seemed to slip away from Mascherano at the final hurdle.

Along with losing four Copa America finals, he also lost the World Cup final to Germany in 2014. That’s got to sting.

READ MORE: 13 international teams that are long overdue a renaissance: Germany, Mexico, Ireland…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the most capped player for every South American nation?

Carlos Tevez

Despite reaching the final on three separate occasions, Tevez was never part of a Copa America winning squad. The fact that he lost two of the finals on penalties must be especially agonising.

Tevez averaged a goal contribution every 94.5 minutes while playing in Copa America, but his efforts were ultimately for nothing in the end.

He was still playing professional football when Argentina did win it in 2021, but being in the twilight of his career, he didn’t make the cut for the squad.

James Rodriguez

Rodriguez has won pretty much everything there is to win at club level, but international success has always slipped away from him.

The Colombian playmaker has produced plenty of noteworthy performances on the international stage over the years, but he’s never come out on top in any of them.

Rodriguez came closest to winning Copa America in 2016, but Colombia ultimately finished third in the tournament after losing to Chile in the semi-final.


During his peak years, Kaka requested not to play at Copa America in 2007 because he needed a rest from football.

As fate would have it, Brazil ended up winning the tournament that year and Kaka never got the chance to win Copa America after that point.

Julio Baptista ended up replacing Kaka in the 2007 squad which proved to be a masterstroke in the end. The attacking midfielder scored a screamer after four minutes in the final and played a key role in Brazil winning the tournament.

Juan Roman Riquelme

Despite being one of the most naturally gifted players that Argentina have ever produced, international success always seemed to escape Riquelme throughout his career.

Other than winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 2008, he never got his hands on any other international trophies. He came close in 2007 but was part of the squad that lost the final to Brazil.

Sixteen countries will compete for the Copa America trophy this summer.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every country that has qualified for the 2024 Copa America?

Radamel Falcao

Colombia’s all-time top scorer has never got his hands on it either. In 12 Copa America appearances, Falcao only managed to score two goals and never made it past the semi-final.

Gonzalo Higuain

The Argentine forward gets a few jibes here and there for missing the odd sitter while on international duty, but his record at Copa America isn’t to be sniffed at.

He scored seven goals and produced two assists in 13 Copa America appearances, averaging a goal contribution every 87.6 minutes. However, despite his goalscoring prowess, he never lifted the trophy itself.

Carlos Valderrama

Considered by many as the best Colombian player of all time, ‘El Pibe’ never managed to get his hands on the trophy, despite some admirable performances.

Valderrama lost twice to the eventual winners in the semi-final and never managed to win a major trophy with Colombia, despite being part of their Golden Generation.

Javier Zanetti

The legendary full-back took part in five separate tournaments but wasn’t able to win any of them. Zanetti eventually called it quits on his international career in 2011, with an impressive 145 appearances under his belt.