Chile's golden generation at the peak of their powers.

Where are they now? The 2016 Copa America Centenario Team of the Tournament

The 2016 Copa America Centenario was an enigmatic tournament. It was, as the name suggests, a centenary celebration of the Copa America, and the first ever to be held in the United States, or outside of South America for that matter.

It came in the middle of the usual four-year cycle, and counted as an official Copa America, yet it didn’t count as the 45th edition of the tournament (in that it followed the 44th) because of its “commemorative nature”… Nope, no idea.

The final saw Argentina taking on Chile’s golden generation at the peak of their powers, and the Chileans came away with their second successive Copa America title, seeing of Argentina on penalties after a 0-0 draw (Leo Messi missed his penalty).

The Team of the Tournament was made up exclusively of players from that final. Let’s see what they’re up to in 2024, shall we?

GK: Claudio Bravo

Chile’s legendary goalkeeper is 41 these days, and is playing second fiddle at Real Betis. His number of appearances has gradually dwindled over his four years back in Spain, and surely retirement is on the horizon.

You never know, though. Bravo is feisty. Once, after Chile’s national anthem being booed before a game with Peru, he left a message in the dressing room, which read, RESPETO, POR AQUÍ PASÓ EL CAMPEÓN DE AMÉRICA” (Respect, the American champions were here).

RB: Mauricio Isla

Ex-Udinese and Juventus full-back Isla is back in South America, chasing up and down the right flank for Independiente.

The Chilean spent the 2014-15 season on loan at Queens Park Rangers, alongside Rio Ferdinand, Joey Barton, Adel Taarabt, Bobby Zamora, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Niko Kranjcar… They finished rock-bottom despite Charlie Austin scoring 18 Premier League goals.

CB: Nicolas Otamendi

Former Manchester City centre-back Otamendi is still playing at a very high level, appearing in the vast majority of competitive games since joining Benfica four seasons ago.

Otamendi might not have won this particular Copa America but he would win it in 2021, followed by a World Cup in 2022, so we reckon he’s probably fine with it.

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CB: Gary Medel

A right nasty bastard to play against, Medel. Any 5ft7in man who plays centre-back is guaranteed to be an absolute terror—just a fact. If he played in your sevens league, he’d be wearing Copa Mundials with the tongue tied down underneath the laces, he’d have big, chunky shinpads concealed beneath his socks, and he’d have his fingers between your ribs at every set-piece.

Medel is 36 now, and is, presumably, wreaking havoc on opposing attackers for Vasco da Gama in Brazil.

LB: Jean Beausejour

The ex-Birmingham City and Wigan man only retired three years ago, which is odd because he feels like a player from a different eon. After leaving the Latics in 2014, Beausejour headed back to Chile for spells with Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile, and Coquimbo Unido before calling it a day in 2021.

Jean is on the co-comms for ESPN Chile, now. Cushty little job.

CM: Javier Mascherano

Mascherano was in his Barcelona world dominance era back in 2016. He left the Spanish giants in 2018 to try his hand in China with Hebei China Fortune, before a victory lap at Estudiantes back in Argentina.

The former Liverpool and West Ham touch tackler is now in charge of Argentina’s under-20s.

Lionel Messi lifting the trophy back in 2021.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every team to win the Copa America?

CM: Arturo Vidal

You probably saw the pictures of Vidal’s return to Colo—his first professional club and probably his last. The helicopter, the horse, the cape, the crown, the sword. F*cking crazy. Wouldn’t have him any other way.

Back in 2016, Vidal was just about at the peak of his powers with Bayern Munich, following a hugely successful spell at Juventus. He’s 37 now, and you’d imagine he’d just boss the Chilean league for a season or two before hanging up the old shin smashers.

CM: Charles Aranguiz

In the summer of 2016, Aranguiz had just completed his first season at Bayer Leverkusen. He left Leverkusen at the end of last season.

Worst. Timing. Ever.

The midfielder is with Internacional in Brazil in 2024, having racked up over 100 caps for Chile.

RW: Lionel Messi

Think he went to America or something.

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?

LW: Alexis Sanchez

Alexis is back at Inter now, following a one-season working holiday in Marseille. He’s 35 years old and still doing the business at the highest level. Got to respect that.

Something you might not know—there’s a statue of him in his hometown of Tocopilla, and he’s bought up some land in Argentina and in Friuli (the region of Italy in which Udinese, his old team, is based) so that he can start making wine.

We bet that wine has some very stocky legs on it.

ST: Eduardo Vargas

Vargas was Mauricio Isla’s fellow Chilean loanee at QPR in that weirdly streets-won’t-forget relegation season. He won the Golden Boot at this special edition of the Copa America in 2016, and a place in the team of the tournament.

A year after the tournament, Vargas swapped Hoffenheim for Tigres, in Mexico, before signing for Atletico Mineiro in Brazil in 2020. The Chilean is still with Atletico to this day.