Copa America Cup Memorable Moments and Highlights So Far

The Copa America, the oldest international football competition, has a rich history of memorable moments and highlights that have captivated fans across the globe. From stunning goals to dramatic upsets, the tournament has provided a stage for some of the greatest talents in football to shine. Here, we take a look back at some of the most unforgettable moments and highlights in Copa America history.

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The Birth of a Legendary Tournament

The Copa America was first held in 1916 to celebrate the centenary of Argentina’s independence. The inaugural tournament featured Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. This humble beginning laid the foundation for what would become one of the most prestigious tournaments in international football.

Uruguay emerged as the dominant force in the early years, winning the first edition and establishing themselves as a powerhouse with their distinctive, physical style of play. Their early dominance set the stage for intense rivalries and high-stakes matches that have defined the tournament over the years.

The Maracanazo: 1950

Though not part of the Copa America, the 1950 World Cup provided one of the most shocking moments in South American football history, with echoes felt in the Copa America. The “Maracanazo,” where Uruguay defeated Brazil in the final at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, has become a symbol of underdog triumph and the unpredictable nature of football. This historic win added to Uruguay’s football legacy and intensified their rivalry with Brazil, influencing many Copa America encounters.

Pele’s Brilliance: 1959

Pelé, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, left an indelible mark on the Copa America during the 1959 tournament in Argentina. Although Brazil did not win the title, Pelé’s performance was nothing short of extraordinary. He scored eight goals in six matches, including a hat-trick against Paraguay and a brace in the 4-1 victory over Chile. His dazzling skills and clinical finishing showcased why he was already being hailed as a football genius at the age of 18.

Argentina’s Long Wait Ends: 1991

Argentina had a long drought in the Copa America, with their last title coming in 1959. The 1991 edition, held in Chile, marked the end of this long wait. Under the guidance of coach Alfio Basile and led by stars like Gabriel Batistuta, Argentina played with flair and determination. Batistuta, in particular, was instrumental, finishing as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals. Argentina’s triumph was a testament to their resilience and talent, re-establishing them as a force in South American football.

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Brazil’s Dominance in the 1990s and 2000s

The 1990s and early 2000s saw Brazil’s resurgence in the Copa America, with the Seleção winning four titles between 1989 and 2007. The 1997 tournament in Bolivia was particularly memorable, as Brazil showcased their attacking prowess with players like Ronaldo, Romário, and Rivaldo. Ronaldo, in his prime, dazzled fans with his speed, technique, and goal-scoring ability, leading Brazil to a convincing 3-1 victory over Bolivia in the final.

The 1999 edition in Paraguay further solidified Brazil’s dominance. With a team featuring stars such as Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho, Brazil played an exhilarating brand of football. They defeated Uruguay 3-0 in the final, with Rivaldo and Ronaldo both finding the net. Brazil’s success during this period was a display of their depth of talent and tactical versatility.

The Emergence of Colombia: 2001

The 2001 Copa America in Colombia was a landmark event for the host nation. Amidst security concerns and the withdrawal of Argentina, Colombia put on a stellar performance to win their first Copa America title. The team, led by coach Francisco Maturana and captain Iván Córdoba, played with discipline and defensive solidity. Córdoba scored the only goal in the final against Mexico, securing a historic victory for Colombia and igniting nationwide celebrations.

Argentina vs. Brazil: The Epic Rivalry

One of the defining features of the Copa America is the fierce rivalry between Argentina and Brazil. Matches between these two giants are always highly anticipated and have produced some of the most memorable moments in the tournament’s history. The 2004 final in Peru was a classic encounter, with Argentina and Brazil battling to a 2-2 draw in regular time. Brazil eventually triumphed 4-2 on penalties, with Adriano scoring a crucial equalizer in the dying moments of the match.

The 2007 final in Venezuela was another showcase of Brazil’s superiority during this era. Brazil dismantled Argentina 3-0, with goals from Júlio Baptista, a Roberto Ayala own goal, and Dani Alves. This victory underscored Brazil’s dominance and deepened Argentina’s frustration, as they continued their quest for Copa America glory.

Messi’s Quest for Glory

Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of his generation, has had a tumultuous relationship with the Copa America. Despite his individual brilliance, team success in the tournament eluded him for many years. The 2015 and 2016 editions were particularly painful for Messi and Argentina, as they lost to Chile in back-to-back finals, both times on penalties. The heartbreak of these defeats led Messi to briefly retire from international football in 2016, only to return with renewed determination.

Messi’s perseverance finally paid off in the 2021 Copa America held in Brazil. Argentina, under coach Lionel Scaloni, played with grit and unity. Messi was instrumental throughout the tournament, contributing goals and assists and leading by example. In the final against Brazil at the Maracanã, Argentina triumphed 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ángel Di María. This victory ended Argentina’s 28-year wait for a major title and provided Messi with his long-awaited international trophy, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest players in football history.

The Rise of New Stars: 2019 and Beyond

The 2019 Copa America in Brazil saw the emergence of new stars and the continued dominance of established ones. Brazil, playing on home soil, showcased their depth and talent, winning their ninth Copa America title. The tournament saw standout performances from young talents like Everton, who was the joint top scorer, and experienced players like Dani Alves, who was named the best player of the tournament.

As the Copa America continues to evolve, new stars and memorable moments are sure to emerge. The tournament remains a celebration of South American football’s rich heritage and a showcase of the continent’s brightest talents. Whether it’s through the brilliance of individual players, the drama of penalty shootouts, or the passion of the fans, the Copa America continues to capture the hearts of football enthusiasts worldwide.


The Copa America has provided countless unforgettable moments and highlights that have become part of football lore. From the early dominance of Uruguay to the brilliance of Pelé, the fierce Argentina-Brazil rivalry, and Lionel Messi’s long-awaited triumph, the tournament has been a stage for drama, skill, and passion. As new generations of players emerge and the competition continues to evolve, the Copa America will undoubtedly keep delivering moments that captivate and inspire fans around the world.

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