Though Besiktas midfield man Rodrigo Tello is one of the most experienced members of the Chilean national squad, La Roja’s 12-year absence from the global showpiece means the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ will be his first trip to the finals.
The versatile 31-year-old can line up at left-back or on the left side of midfield, where his pinpoint set-piece delivery and fierce left-foot shooting can be employed to full effect. His big break came with hometown outfit Universidad de Chile, making his first-division debut in 1999 and being voted Chilean football’s best midfielder the following year.
Proof of his winning mentality are the nine champions’ medals in his personal trophy cabinet: three from Universidad, four from his time with Sporting Lisbon and two from Besiktas. Tello was also part of the Sporting squad which finished runners-up in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup.
On the national team scene, Tello was a key component of the Chile side that claimed bronze at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000. A regular member of La Roja’s senior squad henceforth, he made 13 appearances in qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002 under Juvenal Olmos and three on the road to Germany 2006 with Nelson Acosta at the helm, Chile missing out on the finals on both occasions.
And despite making just one appearance in South Africa 2010 qualifying, against Peru in Lima in March 2009, his experience and versatility is valued by Chile's current boss, Argentinian strategist Marcelo Bielsa.