Chile’s defeat to Brazil didn’t just signal the end of their World Cup hopes, it also sparked the end of arguably the country’s greatest golden generation of all time.
Age has caught up with a the 2015 and 2016 Copa America winners. Those players who also starred in the Confederations Cup earlier this year, runners up to world champions Germany, are – according to their critics in south America – past their sell by date. Some have already gone.
Those back-to-back gold medals cemented their place in history, but the future holds uncertainty.
Arturo Vidal got the ball rolling this afternoon. His retirement is not expected to be the last from a current crop whose meek surrender last night left a nation now so expectant lost for words.
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“Thank you lads, for everything, for all these years together… for teaching me and for showing a country that with effort and work anything is possible in life,” Vidal wrote on Twitter.
So who else could be joining the Juventus midfielder in calling time on his international career.
While surely – despite coming under fire back home for his performances – Alexis Sanchez will play on, the same cannot be said of others.
Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo says he will take “some time” to decide if he is to continue between the posts. Others are also said to be considering their next step.
Their Argentinean manager Juan Antonio Pizzi called time after Tuesday’s defeat and whoever comes in will need to be as quick talking as he is fast moving.
Many, like Gonzalo Jara, Gary Medel, Jean Beausejour, Jorge Valdivia, Matias Fernandez and Eduardo Vargas have played for their county for a decade.
Unlike other nations, whose golden generation lacked glow let alone medals, it is important to remember this Chile side will always be considered as one which delivered, energising a country that had fallen out of love with the game.
A step back to move forward is what’s required in some Chilean eyes.
“We’ve established a winning mentality in the national team,” said Sanchez recently. “We have to keep it going. I don’t know if the next generation will be as good as ours, but I’m afraid that it might be a long time before Chile can count on another group of players as good as the current one.”
The Arsenal star’s words paints a picture of a nation now in desperate need of a new direction.