Mauricio Isla is as versatile as they come. While his favoured position is right midfield, he can also slot in at full-back, the centre of defence and in a holding midfield role. Yet, no matter where he plays, he always makes the most of his ability to get forward and his speed in getting back to cover.
Isla was a fledgling striker when he arrived at Universidad Catolica at the age of 11. After failing to make his mark up front, he dropped back to play sweeper, a switch that proved the making of him. The highlight of his youth career came when he helped Chile take third place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007. A senior national team debut came next, followed by a move to Udinese, to whom he decided to devote his energies rather than pursue his international career. Marcelo Bielsa changed his mindset, however, drafting Isla into the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, where he was a first-choice selection.
Isla was also a key figure during Jorge Sampaoli’s tenure, with only one Chile player spending more time on the pitch during the qualifiers for Brazil 2014. He featured in all of Chile’s matches at the last world finals and at the 2015 Copa America, contributing a goal as La Roja won an historic title. Isla now enjoys the faith of coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, having played an instrumental part in the Copa America Centenario triumph and taken part in all 14 of Chile’s Russia 2018 qualifying matches to date, almost all of them as a full-back.