One of the sensations of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been Costa Rica. When a team is successful, the most representative players of that country come to mind. The footballer who epitomises Costa Rica in a tournament of this magnitude is Paulo César Wanchope. The striker, an idol in his country, was born to a family of football players (his father and brothers), and he exported Costa Rican soccer to many other championships, including the Liga BBVA.
Though one of the most humble national sides in the international competitions, the success of the Ticos is no coincidence and it is not the first time they have reached the Round of 16. The Central American team savoured ‘victory’ in 1990, their first appearance in such a big competition.
The men managed by Bora Milutinović earned their first victory (1-0) in their debut against Scotland. They were unable to repeat the feat against the all-powerful Brazil, losing 1-0. The final encounter would decide whether they qualified for the Round of 16. They faced a Sweden who went into half time ahead on the scoreboard. Milutinović’s team was able to turn the game around to continue to make history in the competition and take their place for the first time among the 16 best teams in the world.
His World Cup record
Wanchope will be remembered as a symbol of Costa Rica and for making his country a regular fixture in the World Cup. After their debut in 1990, the striker led his national side in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. His international record extends to 45 goals in 72 matches. Wanchope is also Costa Rica’s top scorer in World Cup games thanks to his memorable goals against Brazil in 2002 and the brace he bagged against the hosts Germany four years later.
Before and after
His international career for Costa Rica ended in 2007, but his life in football continued. He is currently one of Jorge Luis Pinto’s trusted men and an essential part of the coaching team for the Central American side. He is also an inspiration for a young generation that includes the footballer who is destined to continue the legacy left by Wanchope: Joel Campbell.