History of Reds at the Copa America

Wednesday 19 June 2024 11:06

The upcoming Copa America in the USA will be the eighth to feature Manchester United representation.

The famous tournament is set to include our Argentina duo Lisandro Martinez and Alejandro Garnacho, plus Uruguay winger Facundo Pellistri.

A total of 10 different Reds have previously appeared in the finals, while contracted to United.

Here is a breakdown of their involvement...

Antonio Valencia appeared in three Copa America tournaments while at United.

2004 - Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Kleberson (Brazil)

The event in Peru saw the first goal by a Red in a Copa America, thanks to Diego Forlan's strike in a 2-1 victory over Ecuador in Chiclayo. Despite only qualifying as one of the best third-placed sides, Uruguay made it to the semi-finals, where they were beaten on penalties by Brazil.

After starting in that last-four game, Kleberson played for 54 minutes of the final, which ended in a 2-2 draw with Argentina, and got his hands on the trophy, a year after arriving at Old Trafford, thanks to a 4-2 success for the Selecao on penalties.

2007 - Gabriel Heinze (Argentina)

After missing one of the spot-kicks in the previous edition's final, rugged defender Gabriel Heinze was our sole representative in Venezuela, as his country finished runners-up to Brazil. He played at left-back, alongside fellow one-time Reds Juan Sebastian Veron and Carlos Tevez in a 3-0 loss.

2011 - Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

Again, we only had one player four years later, with Antonio Valencia making the first of three finals appearances while with the club. Unfortunately, Ecuador finished bottom in Group B and failed to progress to the knockout stages.

2015 - Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Marcos Rojo (Argentina)

The tournament in Chile, won by the hosts, featured two Reds. Radamel Falcao captained Colombia, as they went out to Argentina in the quarter-finals on penalties. Falcao scored his spot-kick and, although Marcos Rojo missed his, the Albiceleste progressed and hammered Paraguay 6-1 at the last-four stage, with defender Rojo opening the scoring. Chile, though, lifted the trophy after another shootout, following a goalless draw in Santiago. 

Sergio Romero came within a penalty shootout of winning the Copa America Centenario.

2016 - Marcos Rojo (Argentina), Sergio Romero (Argentina), Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

The most players we've had at a Copa America, before this year's showpiece, came for a special occasion, as the centenary of the competition was marked in the United States. The Copa America Centenario prompted more heartache for Rojo, and his team-mate Sergio Romero, as Chile repeated their shootout triumph in the final, a year on from their previous heroics. Rojo was red carded in the final and, although Romero kept a clean sheet, Chile won 4-2 on spot-kicks. Meanwhile, Valencia's finals also ended when he was sent off in Ecuador's exit to USA. The wide man had earlier scored in a 4-0 victory over Haiti.

2019: Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)

Alexis scored twice as Chile ended up in fourth place in Brazil, finding the net against Japan and Ecuador. The ex-Arsenal attacker also converted the key penalty in the shootout win over Colombia in the quarter-finals. However, Chile lost 3-0 to Peru in the semi-finals. Valencia's Ecuador finished bottom of Group C, after only accruing one point.

2021 - Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Fred (Brazil)

Fred narrowly missed out on becoming the second Red to lift the trophy, as Brazil were beaten 1-0 by fierce rivals Argentina in the Maracana. The midfielder enjoyed an impressive tournament in the Selecao's engine room but was withdrawn at half-time in the final, as ex-Red Angel Di Maria's lob won it. Future United man Casemiro had scored an injury-time winner against Colombia in the group stages. Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani scored for Uruguay in a vital 2-0 triumph against Bolivia and then hit the only goal against Paraguay, from the penalty spot. Although he netted again from 12 yards in the shootout with Colombia, with his country's first attempt, a 4-2 loss, following a 0-0 draw, sent Uruguay spinning out in the quarter-finals.