Top Moments of Copa America You Can’t Miss

Copa America, the oldest international continental football competition, has been the stage for some of the most memorable moments in football history. Since its inception in 1916, this prestigious tournament has provided fans with thrilling matches, iconic performances, and unforgettable events. Here, we take a look at some of the top moments in Copa America history that you simply can’t miss.

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1. The Birth of Copa America (1916)

The first edition of Copa America took place in Argentina in 1916 to celebrate the centenary of Argentina’s independence. This inaugural tournament set the stage for what would become a rich history of football in South America. Uruguay emerged as the first champions, defeating Argentina 1-0 in the final match. This victory marked the beginning of Uruguay’s dominance in the early years of the tournament.

2. The Maracanazo (1950)

Though not directly a Copa America event, the 1950 World Cup’s “Maracanazo” had a profound impact on South American football. Brazil’s shocking defeat to Uruguay in the final at the Maracanã Stadium left a lasting impression on the region’s football culture. This historic moment intensified the rivalry between Brazil and Uruguay, adding an extra layer of drama to their Copa America encounters in subsequent years.

3. Pele’s Emergence (1959)

Pele, one of the greatest footballers of all time, had his breakthrough on the international stage during the 1959 Copa America. Though Brazil did not win the tournament, Pele’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. He scored eight goals, including a hat-trick against Paraguay, and was named the Best Player of the tournament. This was a pivotal moment that showcased the arrival of a football legend.

4. The Dominance of Argentina in the 1990s

The 1990s were a golden era for Argentine football in Copa America. Argentina won back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1993, showcasing a blend of skill and tenacity. The 1993 victory in Ecuador was particularly significant as it marked Argentina’s last major international trophy until their Copa America triumph in 2021. The team, led by Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Simeone, exemplified the spirit and talent of Argentine football.

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5. Colombia’s Golden Generation (2001)

Colombia hosted and won the 2001 Copa America in a tournament that will always be remembered for its unique circumstances. Argentina withdrew due to security concerns, and Brazil sent a weakened squad. Nevertheless, Colombia’s triumph was a testament to their quality and resilience. They won the tournament without conceding a single goal, and striker Víctor Aristizábal finished as the top scorer. This victory remains one of the crowning achievements in Colombian football history.

6. The Rise of Lionel Messi (2015 and 2021)

Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer of his generation, has had a complex relationship with the Copa America. Despite his immense success at the club level, international glory eluded him for many years. In 2015 and 2016, Messi led Argentina to consecutive Copa America finals, only to be defeated both times by Chile in heartbreaking penalty shootouts.

However, the narrative changed in 2021. In a tournament played amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Messi finally lifted the Copa America trophy, his first major international title with Argentina. His performances throughout the tournament were stellar, earning him the Best Player award. This victory not only cemented Messi’s legacy but also ended Argentina’s 28-year trophy drought.

7. Brazil’s Home Triumph (2019)

Brazil’s victory in the 2019 Copa America was a significant moment for the host nation. The tournament saw the emergence of new stars like Everton and Gabriel Jesus, alongside the experienced leadership of Dani Alves. Brazil defeated Peru 3-1 in the final at the Maracanã Stadium, securing their ninth Copa America title. This victory was particularly sweet for Brazil, as it was their first Copa America win on home soil since 1989.

8. Chile’s Back-to-Back Wins (2015 and 2016)

Chile’s consecutive Copa America victories in 2015 and 2016 were monumental for the nation. Before these triumphs, Chile had never won a major international tournament. The 2015 victory came on home soil, with Chile defeating Argentina in a dramatic penalty shootout in the final. The following year, Chile repeated the feat by again overcoming Argentina on penalties in the Centenario edition held in the United States. These victories were a testament to the golden generation of Chilean football, led by stars like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal.

9. The Emergence of Peru (2019)

Peru’s unexpected run to the final in the 2019 Copa America was one of the tournament’s most captivating stories. Under the guidance of coach Ricardo Gareca, Peru showcased a blend of tactical discipline and attacking flair. They defeated Uruguay and Chile in the knockout stages, demonstrating their ability to compete with South America’s elite. Although they were ultimately defeated by Brazil in the final, Peru’s journey to the final was a significant achievement for the nation.

10. The Return of Uruguay (2011)

Uruguay’s triumph in the 2011 Copa America was a historic moment for the nation. Led by coach Oscar Tabarez and featuring a talented squad with players like Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay claimed their 15th Copa America title. This victory made Uruguay the most successful team in the history of the tournament at the time, highlighting their enduring footballing legacy.

11. Bolivia’s Historic Victory (1963)

Bolivia’s victory in the 1963 Copa America remains one of the most surprising and celebrated moments in the tournament’s history. Hosted in Bolivia, the tournament saw the home team rise to the occasion, defeating footballing giants like Brazil and Argentina. Bolivia’s triumph was a significant achievement for a nation not traditionally considered a football powerhouse, and it remains a cherished memory for Bolivian football fans.

12. The Dramatic 1987 Final

The 1987 Copa America final between Uruguay and Chile was a match filled with drama and excitement. Held in Argentina, the final saw Uruguay emerge victorious with a 1-0 win, thanks to a goal from Pablo Bengoechea. The tournament was notable for the strong performances from both teams and the passionate support from fans, making it one of the most memorable finals in Copa America history.


Copa America has provided football fans with countless unforgettable moments over the years. From historic victories and the emergence of football legends to dramatic finals and underdog triumphs, the tournament’s rich history is filled with stories that have shaped the sport in South America and beyond. As we look forward to future editions of Copa America, these iconic moments remind us why this tournament holds a special place in the hearts of football fans worldwide.

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