Chile forward Alexis Sanchez has claimed his national side’s belief that drove them to the 2015 South American Copa America title stems all the way back to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
La Roja ended their 99-year wait for a major international honour after the tournament host nation beat Argentina in the final in a 4-1 penalty-shootout victory following a goalless draw, in where Sanchez scored the winner with a chipped ‘Panenka’ effort from 12 yards.
Having scored 10 times in the group stage of the competition, Chile put on solid defensive displays, conceding just once in the last three matches.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side also turned heads at the World Cup in Brazil last year after easing through the group stage, beating then-holders Spain 2-0 as they finished behind Netherlands to proceed to the knockout stages.
Despite losing to Brazil on penalties in the second round of the World Cup, Sanchez believes their exploits 12 months ago provided the perfect platform to secure a Copa America triumph in front of their own fans.
“We talked about it in Brazil that we were going to win the Copa America,” the Arsenal star said.
“This is really a great generation, we deserve this.”
Chile and Napoli forward Eduardo Vargas ended the tournament as joint top scorer alongside Peru’s Paolo Guerrero and echoed the 26-year-old’s belief that the success was well-earned.
“It is a very important achievement for me, now I will enjoy it and hopefully we can continue on the path we are on,” he added.
“It was an extra-special tournament, because we were champions. Not to detract from the other teams, because they also did things right.
“It is very special. To beat our rivals leaves more content, but mostly because we won at home.”