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The 44th Copa América has taken its place in FC Barcelona’s history. Many Barça players have featured in what is the oldest international competition in world football, but only five of them have had the fortune to lift the trophy. On Saturday in Santiago, Claudio Bravo became the first blaugrana since Rivaldo back in 1999 to join that famous list. The Barça keeper therefore rounds off a wonderful season in which he has won no less than four trophies, the Champions League, the League and the Spanish Cup with the blaugranes and the Copa América with Chile.
Sotil the first
Hugo Sotil was the first Barça player to win the Copa América during his time as a blaugrana. The Peruvian claimed the trophy back in 1975 with a win over Colombia in the final when it was still played over two legs, home and away. Victories for both sides at home led to a one-off play off on neutral territory in Venezuela. ‘Cholo’ Sotil had not played in the tournament prior to the final game as he had not gained permission from Barça coach at the time Rinus Michels. However, the midfielder travelled to South America for the decisive encounter and not only did he start for his country but he also scored the only goal of the game to give Peru their second Copa América title.
In 1997 Brazil went into the tournament in Bolivia as strong favourites. A squad that boasted the talents of the likes of Djalminha, Dunga, Denilson, Leonardo and Aldair also contained Ronaldo and Romario, the most fearsome attacking partnership in world football at the time. Ronaldo and his Barça team mate Giovanni became the second and third blaugranes to lift the Copa América with a 3-1 victory over hosts Bolivia in the final. Ronaldo scored five goals in the tournament, including a goal in the final and both players equaled Bravo’s feat of four trophies in a season, adding the Spanish Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup to the Copa América.
Two years later yet another Barça player became Copa América champion, once again with Brazil. Rivaldo had already claimed the league with Louis Van Gaal’s team and the ‘canarinha’ set up a final with Uruguay thanks to wins over Argentina and Mexico in the knock out stages. The Barça number 10 scored two goals in the 3-0 victory in the final and ended the tournament as joint top scorer with team mates and former blaugrana Ronaldo on five goals.
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