Elías Figueroa

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Elías Figueroa
Personal information
Full name Elías Ricardo Figueroa Brander
Date of birth (1946-10-25) 25 October 1946 (age 75)
Place of birth Valparaíso, Chile
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Sweeper / Central Defender
Youth career
1962–1964 Santiago Wanderers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1964–1966 Santiago Wanderers 54 (0)
1964 Unión La Calera (loan) 30 (0)
1967–1972 Peñarol 214 (6)
1972–1976 Internacional 336 (26)
1977–1980 Palestino 118 (6)
1981 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 22 (0)
1981–1982 Colo-Colo 17 (0)
Total 791 (38)
National team
1966–1982 Chile 47 (2)
Teams managed
1994–1996 Palestino

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Elías Ricardo Figueroa Brander (born October 25, 1946 in Valparaíso) is a Chilean former football player. He is generally regarded as his country's best footballer of all time, as well as one of the greatest defenders ever to play the game.

Figueroa played for several clubs during his long career, notably his hometown club Santiago Wanderers, Brazilian club Internacional and Uruguayan club Peñarol. He also represented Chile 47 times, appearing in three world cups, in 1966, 1974, and 1982.

Figueroa was noted for his elegant style of play, his calmness in the centre of defense and his ability to cut out opposition attacks and immediately launch counterattacks from the back. He was also praised throughout his career for being a gentleman on and off the pitch. He was twice awarded the Bola de Ouro, the Brazilian Player of the year award whilst playing for Internacional in 1972 and 1976. He was also awarded the South American Footballer of the Year three times in a row by Venezuelan newspaper El Mundo in 1974, 1975 and 1976. He was designated Best Player in Uruguay in 1967 and 1968 and Best Player in Chile in 1977 and 1978. He has subsequently been voted into the world's 125 best living soccer players and was also voted 8th best South American and 37th best player in the world of the 20th Century by the IFFHS in 1999.

In March 2011 he revealed that he was considering entering the FIFA Presidential election.

Playing Style

"Don Elias" was noted as a player for having a keen ability to neutralize attacks with his great reading of the game. Figueroa also had the ability to start counter-attacks from defence thanks to his vision and good range of passing. There were comparisons with Beckenbauer, but while the German often looked for long, killer balls upfield, Figueroa typically used shorter, incisive passes to spring his team-mates forward. Figueroa was also a threat in the final third of the pitch, often marauding forward to lay on goals for other players. Figueroa remembers: "when I played in Brazil, always we did a play in which the wing back and the winger retained the ball and all marked us until that I entered free by the center to attack".[1] A great technical footballer, Figueroa was also a physical presence, good in the air and strong in one-on-ones. He had a reputation of being a clean and fair player. Only once in his entire career was he shown a red card and was selected as captain for every team he played for. According to journalist Nelson Rodrigues, Figueroa was "elegant, as an earl dressed in suit, and dangerous as a Bengal Tiger. Elias Figueroa was the perfect defender."[2][3]


He was born on October 25, 1946, he is a 1 in numerology, and began his career at Florida High Quilpué. In 1963, at age 16, he appeared in the first division of the Chilean professional football league, playing for Wanderers of Valparaíso, and then went on loan to Union La Calera, and in 1964, while only 17, he joined the youth team of the Andean nation.

The Chilean star played his first World Cup in England in 1966. Designed to excel, the poise and hierarchy was gradually becoming one of the toughest positions in football, central defender, make the eyes of experts from perching on it.

This led to his first foreign recruitment in 1967. Thus, after completion of the South American Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay Peñarol passed.

With the institution gets aurinegra championships 1967, 1968 and 1969, was elected the best player in the Uruguayan championship in 1967 and 1968.

By then he was a trained athlete, however, worried about further develop their skills, which caught the attention of Brazilian executives. In fact, he was hired by the Internacional de Porto Alegre who is devoted to Brazilian champion in 1975 and 1976. Your team also won 5 Champion of Campeonato Gaúcho. In 1974 they won 18 games of 18 games to be champions.[4] Elias Figueroa was the axis of that team and very remembered was his "Illuminated goal".

He was elected the best Brazilian central defender in the field during the seasons 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 and Player of the Year in 1975 and 1976. As if this were not enough, the semi-legendary figure of Figueroa is surpassing borders at the expense of praise, until he was acclaimed as the best player in America in 1974, 1975 and 1976 and competing with players against giants of world football as Falcão teammate, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto Torres, Zico, Nelinho, Marinho Chagas, Teófilo Cubillas, Héctor Chumpitaz, Mario Kempes, Roberto Perfumo or Daniel Passarella even Figueroa ended the reign of Pelé in the most brilliant period of South American football.[5]

Was restrained in personal branding, and without relying on the violent game, marking opponents with surprising plasticity. It also had great ability to pass without stopping the attack, using his powerful shot and the natural endowment had to head, attack or defend.

Meantime in 1974 returned to represent Chile in a World Cup tournament and while the selection Andean failed to perform well, Figueroa was elected the best central defender of the tournament.[6] Shortly after returning to his homeland to wear the colors of the Palestinian, whom ends up being a national champion in 1977 and 1978.

Like many figures in world football, in 1981 he went to the United States where he played in the North American Soccer League for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

In 1982 he again wore the national uniform in the World Cup in Spain in 1982 and that year he transferred to Colo-Colo in Santiago.

Finally, after 20 years of distributing international football hierarchy, retired from professional football practice. Later became a television sports commentator for Chilean and Brazilian, standing equally in his new profession.

In 1999 he received the honorable mention of being one of the top eleven players from Latin America and in the same year she was part of a select group of the Great Masters Cup in a ceremony held in Cannes, France.

His visit to Brazil was so successful that some local journalists divided his career in the South American nation "before and after Figueroa." Single lineage heads the list of all Chilean players to date.


Figueroa started and ended his career with Chilean clubs. He spent several years in Uruguay with Peñarol, in Brazil with Internacional, and in the US with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

His most successful period in domestic football came at Peñarol and Internacional, but in total he amassed an impressive 22 titles.

National team

He had 47 caps and scored two goals with the Chilean national football team.[7]

He was the captain of the Chile national football team on many occasions and captained the Chilean squad through their most successive era to date when they qualified for three World Cups, He played in the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, the 1974 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. In 1974 Figueroa was elected the best central defender of the tournament and member of the all-star team of World Cup.[8]

He was also captain when they finished third in the South American Championship 1967 and a remarkable second place in the Copa América 1979.

On December 2006 he served as coach when Chile played a friendly game against Aragon.

Potential FIFA Presidential Run

On March 25, 2011 Figueroa was chosen as ChangeFIFA's candidate to clean up FIFA following the scandal-hit 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid race last year. Unless Figueroa is nominated by a national federation, FIFA president Sepp Blatter's only opponent in the elections on June 1 will be Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam. ChangeFIFA co-director David Larkin said that if FIFA members denied one of their own legendary players the right to stand for president, "it will only prove to show that FIFA has become an exclusive and undemocratic club of an elite few who will stop at nothing to prevent their loss of privilege and power". Figueroa told Brazil's leading sports newspaper, Lance!: "My idea, which is also theirs, is to change some things in football, make it better. I still cannot give details, but, if the nomination is confirmed, we will reveal."[9]

However, on March 31, 2011, Figueroa said in a statement he had decided not to accept because "in such a short period of time I could not develop a case worthy of the magnitude and importance of such a distinguished job".[10]


  • Champion of Primera División Uruguaya: 1967 and 1968
  • Winner of Intercontinental Champions Super Cup: 1969
  • Winner of Honour Tournament: 1967
  • Winner of Cuadrangular Tournament: 1968
  • Winner of Montevideo Cup: 1971


Distinctions Year
Best player of the world by the FIFA[11][12][13][14] 1975, 1976
All-Star Team of 1974 FIFA World Cup[15] Best defense of the tournament[16] 1974
South American Footballer of the Year[17] 1974–1975–1976
Third place South American Footballer of the Year 1977
Best South American defense of the year[18] 1972-1973-1974-1975-1976-1977
Best global defense of the year[19] 1974-1975-1976-1977
Bola de Ouro Brazil's best player[20] 1972–1976
Bola de Prata 1972– 1974- 1975– 1976
Best player of Uruguay[21] 1967, 1968, 1971
Best foreigner player of the century in Brazil [22] 2001
Best foreigner player of the century in Uruguay 2000
Best footballer of the year in Chile 1966, 1981
Best sportsman of the year of Chile 1981
Chilean Footballer of the History of Circle of Sports Journalists of Chile[23] 1999
N° 37 The World's best Player of the Century IFFHS[24] 1999/2000
N° 8 South America best Player of the Century IFFHS[25] 1999/2000
N° 1 Chilean best Player of the Century IFFHS[26] 1999/2000
N° 1 South America best Defender of the Century IFFHS[27] 1999/2000
List FIFA 100 of Pelé 2004
Member of South American Team of the 20th Century[28] 1999
Member of historical team by the American Cup[29][30][31][32][33] 2011
Member of Dream Team of Peñarol of all time[34] 2002
Member Bicentennial Team of Santiago Wanderers[35] 2010
Most influential footballer in the history of Sport Club Internacional of Porto Alegre.[36] 2012
Placar magazine (Brazil) N 19° in published a list of the best 100 players of all time[37] 1999
Playboy Brazil magazine N 13° in published a list of voted among the best in history[38] 2005
World Soccer magazine; selected in published a list of the best 50 players of all time[39] 2010
Sports Illustrated Latino; Elected at the eleventh ideal of the past 50 years of South American football[40] 2012
Distinction as Ambassador to the UN by the Sports Program for Development and Peace[41] 2002
Distinction of the order "Knight of Rio Branco" granted by the Federative Republic of Brazil[42][43] 2000
Award of CONMEBOL by exalt to South American soccer[44][45][46] 2009
Member of the Walk of Fame Stadium Maracana[47] 2000
Was nominated constantly to Selection of the World and South America from 19 years 1966–1982
Was only player alongside Hugo Sánchez that has participated in three World Cups alternately 1966– 1974- 1982
Sent off just once in 18-year career[48] 1965–1983
Was captain in all teams where he played 1966–1982

See also


  1. http://www.capital.cl/vida-y-estilo/2014/05/16/120515-don-elias-nunca-me-gusto-ser-defensa
  2. http://www.libero.pe/figueroa-es-la-leyenda-viva-del-futbol-chileno-2012-01-23
  3. http://www.clarin.com/deportes/futbol/stylecolorBF1424Planeta-RedondoibrElias-Figueroa-dueno-area_0_406759581.html
  4. http://oncenasdefutbol.blogspot.com/2010/05/internacional-porto-alegre-campeon.html
  5. Video on YouTube
  6. http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/player=49415/
  7. "Appearances for Chile National Team". RSSSF. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/player=49415/
  9. ChangeFIFA Urges Federations to Back South American Legend's Challenge to Blatter Presidency
  10. Battle for FIFA Presidency is Between Blatter and Bin Hammam
  11. http://chile.as.com/chile/2015/10/16/opinion/1445020749_038502.html
  12. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2004/01/02/133774/elias-figueroa-y-las-razones-para-ser-uno-de-los-100-mejores-de-la-historia.html
  13. http://www.latercera.com/iphone/noticia/deportes/2013/01/656-502249-9-los-chilenos-que-se-convirtieron-en-estrellas-tras-jugar-un-sudamericano-sub-20.shtml
  14. http://www.eliasfigueroa.com/
  15. http://football.sporting99.com/fifa-world-cup-all-star-team.html
  16. http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/player=49415/index.html
  17. http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/sam-poy.html
  18. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2004/01/02/133774/elias-figueroa-y-las-razones-para-ser-uno-de-los-100-mejores-de-la-historia.html
  19. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2004/01/02/133774/elias-figueroa-y-las-razones-para-ser-uno-de-los-100-mejores-de-la-historia.html
  20. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2004/01/02/133774/elias-figueroa-y-las-razones-para-ser-uno-de-los-100-mejores-de-la-historia.html
  21. Video on YouTube
  22. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2001/01/09/42802/elias-figueroa-agradecio-distincion-entregada-en-brasil.html
  23. http://ihechile.blogspot.com/2007/10/prensafutbolcl-elas-figueroa-fue.html
  24. http://www.iffhs.de/?42d03e32a16f43809fa3c17c13c09e20a15ff3c09f32b17f7370eff3702bb0a35bb6e28fc380de43110f83d00e1a
  25. http://www.iffhs.de/?a85bd0e027e8f05f14b003c8e023ccac33f4e0db98c003e8f05305fdcdc3bfcdc0aec28d6edb8a3f0e03790c443e0f40390b40fb0c
  26. http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/iffhs-country-complete.html
  27. http://www.iffhs.de/?a85bd0e027e8f05f14b003c8e023ccac33f4e0db98c003e8f05305fdcdc3bfcdc0aec28d6edb8a3f0e03790c443e0f40390b40fb0c
  28. http://www.soccertimes.com/international/1998/may15.htm
  29. http://www.ferplei.com/2011/07/foto-conmebol-puso-a-don-elias-en-el-once-historico-de-copa-america/
  30. http://www.cooperativa.cl/p4_noticias/site/artic/20070928/pags/20070928121237.html
  31. http://www.elancasti.com.ar/nota.php?id=110357
  32. http://www.caracol.com.co/nota.aspx?id=493498
  33. http://www.el-litoral.com.ar/leer_noticia.asp?IdNoticia=166891
  34. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2002/12/29/101319/elias-figueroa-presente-en-el-equipo-sonado-de-penarol.html
  35. http://edicionimpresa.soychile.cl/estrella-valparaiso/2012/08/16/full/12/
  36. http://www.lun.com/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?dt=2012-12-18&PaginaId=23&bodyid=0
  37. http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/best-x-players-of-y.html#placar100
  38. http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2005/08/21/21.15.4a.DEP.ELIAS.html
  39. http://www.youkioske.com/futbol/world-soccer-october-2010/
  40. http://diario.elmercurio.com/detalle/index.asp?id={e743c340-7919-4256-8209-7497f6699f3c}
  41. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2000/08/14/29481/el-reconocimiento-a-don-elias.html
  42. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2000/08/14/29481/el-reconocimiento-a-don-elias.html
  43. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2000/08/16/29568/gobierno-brasileno-distinguio-a-elias-figueroa.html
  44. http://www.mercuriovalpo.cl/prontus4_noticias/site/artic/20090127/pags/20090127000501.html
  45. http://www.emol.com/noticias/deportes/2009/01/26/341841/conmebol-premiara-a-elias-figueroa-carlos-caszely-y-jaime-pizarro.html
  46. http://www.estrellanorte.cl/prontus4_nots/site/artic/20090127/pags/20090127001215.html
  47. http://www.maracana.proderj.rj.gov.br/historia_maracanaI.asp
  48. http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/players/player=49415/index.html

External links