Chile is renowned around the globe for turning out top-rate athletes, but who are the most globally famous? Fundación Imagen de Chile reveals the top 10, with soccer and tennis figuring prominently.
Chilean talent is renowned around the globe, especially in the world of sports, where we have figures that bring their best game to different arenas. According to Imagen de Chile’s most recent perception study, soccer players Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal and soccer coach Manuel Pellegrini lead the list of the most globally famous Chilean sporting personalities.
“Soccer is still the most popular sport and has been a tremendous global ambassador for the Chile brand during the golden age of soccer. We’ve had several representatives in the major European leagues,” said Constanza Cea, Executive Director of Imagen de Chile. “We Chileans have celebrated tremendous sporting achievements, such as two Copa América wins in soccer, two Olympic gold medals in tennis and even a FIFA award for the best goalkeeper in 2022 for Christiane Endler,” she added.
We’re proud of the performance of our athletes, but just how well known are they around the globe? The Imagen de Chile survey on perceptions of leading Chilean sports personalities was conducted in 12 cities around the world (Toronto, Washington, Tokyo, New York, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Sao Paulo, London, Shanghai, New Delhi and Dubai), producing the following top 10:
Inter Milan striker Alexis Sanchez “El Niño Maravilla” (Boy Wonder) tops the list with 55% recognition worldwide, yet only 31% of those surveyed knew that he was Chilean. He is followed by midfielder Arturo Vidal, with 51%, but only 21% were aware of the nationality of “El Rey” (the King). Both players were most widely known in Dubai.
Third place is held by soccer coach Manuel Pellegrini, who was recognized by 49% of those surveyed. He is best-known in Madrid (79%) as he has managed Real Madrid and other Spanish teams, such as Villarreal, Malaga and currently Real Betis, who won the Copa del Rey this year. The captain of the Chilean national team “La Roja”, Claudio Bravo, is the goalkeeper for Real Betis and he is number five on the list with 45% recognition; 82% were aware of his nationality in Dubai, which is surprising as although he has played in the European markets, awareness there was lower, for example in London it was 50% and in Madrid 48%.
“It’s amazing how well our soccer representatives have become known around the globe. The first five places are occupied by soccer players and the tennis player Fernando González only appears in sixth place. He’s an Olympic medalist and one of the highest ranked athletes in the world. Despite the great successes of figures such as Tomás González in gymnastics, Joaquín Niemann and Mito Pereira in golf, or Sammis Reyes in American football, to name just a few, these figures do not appear in the top 10 of the most well-known,” said Constanza Cea. “Another phenomenon is the Za-Sa duo, which was a significant era for Chilean soccer, as they both played in the most important European leagues. They tied for fourth place in the ranking at 47% despite having retired from professional soccer more than a decade ago, and that shows how well people remember them,” she continued.
Sixth place is shared by soccer player Gary Medel and former tennis player Fernando González, who achieved 43% recognition. Tennis is also represented by the former world number one, Marcelo “Chino” Ríos, with 40% and women’s soccer also made it into the ranking with Christiane Endler, the goalkeeper of the Chilean national women’s team “La Roja Femenina” and the best goalkeeper in the world according to The Best (39%). She shares eighth position with tennis player Christan Garin.