"Who is Chile? Colo Colo! Who is Colo Colo? Chile!" is the chant made famous by the supporters of Chile's most successful side Colo Colo, an institution that has held a pioneering role in football in the Andean nation. FIFA.com brings you a closer look at a club that, much like Chile itself, has known periods of glory, far-reaching crisis and even tragedy.
Birth of an institution
In 1924, a forward by the name of David Arellano travelled with the Chilean national side to that year's Torneo Sudamericano (later the Copa América) in Uruguay. Once there, he was so impressed by the organisation, training methods and tactics of the host nation and Argentina that he vowed to put them into place at his own club side, Magallanes. However, he encountered such levels of resistance to his proposals that the following year he left the prestigious outfit, along with a number of other young players, in order to start up a new team.
Thus Colo Colo Football Club came to light on 19 April 1925, with the name Colo Colo used in honour of the famously cunning chief of a Mapuche Indian tribe who fought the Spanish colonisers in the 16th century. Meanwhile, the club's white shirt was chosen to symbolise purity of spirit, their black shorts as a sign of hard work and the red, blue and white crest to match the Chilean flag.
Arellano then set about instilling the ideas he had picked up on Uruguayan soil, and his new side promptly won the 1926 Santiago championship without losing a single game. The exploits of the team dubbed El Cacique (The Chief), soon spread beyond the confines of the Chilean capital, with Colo Colo becoming the country's most popular club.
Making of a legend
In 1927, El Albo also became the first Chilean club to go on an overseas tour, though this would have tragic consequences. Indeed, during a match with Spanish outfit Real Valladolid, Arellano received a blow which caused the onset of peritonitis which, after not being diagnosed in time, ended his life. Since his passing on 3 May 1927, the Colocolina shirt has borne a black memorial stripe, initially on the sleeve and now found above the club's badge.
One of the founder members of the Chilean Professional Football League in 1933, Colo Colo went unbeaten when winning the title for the first time in 1937 and to date are the only team to have played in every edition of the competition.
What is more, on the back of their fifth title success in 1947, the club were chosen to host the following year's inaugural edition of the Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones (South American champions' championship), which would later become the Copa Libertadores de América. And rumour has it a visiting French journalist witnessed the 1948 showpiece and took the idea over to Europe, planting the seed of what is now the UEFA Champions League.
Inspired by former Newcastle United duo Ted and Jorge Robledo, Colo Colo won the 1953 and 1956 titles and were constant challengers throughout the decade. Having also picked up the 1960 crown, the class of 1963 set two long-standing club records: the most number of goals in one season (103, still held today); and the most goals from a single player (Luis Alvarez with 37, a figure matched in 2008 by Lucas Barrios).
Boasting club legends Carlos Caszely and Francisco Valdes, the fabled Colo Colo 1973 became the first Chilean outfit to reach the Copa Libertadores final, where they were beaten by Argentina's Independiente. This group of players also supplied the core of the Chile squad which qualified for the 1974 FIFA World Cup™.
The 1980s also proved productive, including as it did four league title wins, while these achievements also helped lay the foundations for the unforgettable 90s period. Under Croatian coach Mirko Jozic, El Cacique finally lifted the Libertadores trophy, a first for a Chilean club, before further continental success in the shape of the 1991 Copa Interamericana and the 1992 Recopa Sudamericana. After Jozic's dismissal in 1993, El Albo's form dipped until the appointment of the Paraguayan supremo Gustavo Benitez, who rode out early criticism to claim title success in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
The dawn of the new millennium brought a dark period for Colo Colo, who were officially declared bankrupt in January 2002, though the institution managed to keep its doors open. This status was eventually rescinded in early 2006, around the time of Claudio Borghi's appointment as coach. And in a run that begun under the Argentinian strategist and featured players of the calibre of Matias Fernandez, Jorge Valdivia, Alexis Sanchez and Humberto Suazo, El Cacique won five of the next six short-tournament titles (Apertura and Clausura) culminating in the 2008 Clausura crown.
After this success, the club's 28th domestic league title, Colo Colo made the decision to focus heavily on winning the 2009 Libertadores. Yet under another Argentinian coach, Marcelo Barticciotto, El Albo failed to progress from the group stage as well as missing out on the end-of-season title play-offs in the 2009 Apertura, which would cost Barticciotto his job. Next in line for the hot seat is another Argentinian supremo, Hugo Tocalli, who will take the reins in June.
The club's desire to have their own stadium dated back to the 30s, though it was not until 1956 that they were able to purchase the land where the Estadio Monumental David Arellano is currently located. Despite enjoying government backing to finish the arena, with a view to hosting matches at the 1962 FIFA World Cup Chile, an earthquake caused a rethink and put building work on hold until the early 70s.
The stadium was finally inaugurated on 20 April 1975 ahead of a win against Aviacion, though Colo Colo would only play five games at their new home - given that the facilities were not up to the required standard. It was eventually unveiled for a second time 14 years later, on 30 September 1989, prior to a win over Penarol, and currently has a capacity of 45,000.