Claudio Bravo is just the player Chile needed to inherit the captain’s armband worn by such legends as Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamorano. At just 27 years of age, Bravo is a calming influence in La Roja and already boasts bags of experience. He also has the reputation of being the best custodian in the second tier of Spanish football, where he keeps goal for Real Sociedad.
After arriving at the age of 10 from his home town of Viluco for a trial with Colo Colo, he soon caught the eye of the El Cacique coaching staff. He made his professional debut in 2002 at just 19, the first step in a successful career.
Renowned for his penalty-saving skills, Bravo has earned universal praise for his reflexes and good positioning. He played a vital role in helping Chile qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, playing in every game and conceding just 22 goals as a nailed-on first choice in Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Bravo also knows something about finding the opposition net, a luxury that few keepers in the world can lay claim to. It happened last February against Gimnastic of Tarragona, in a Spanish Second Division game, when his coach, Martin Lasarte, encouraged him to run forward and take a free-kick, which he duly converted to win the game.
“It was certainly a bit different, but I don’t really want to talk about it too much, because I am not in the side to score goals. It was a lucky one-off and I did it because the coach and my team-mates asked me to”, he said.
A friendly, laid-back character, Bravo has been the subject of transfer speculation linking him with several top Spanish sides. However, the goalkeeper has taken it all in his stride, signing a new contract until 2013 with Sociedad and continuing to live happily with his family in San Sebastian.
He is also quietly confident in what he and his team-mates can achieve in South Africa: “A World Cup doesn’t come around every day or even every year, and I have faith in what we can do out there. We have already shown in qualifying that we can perform on the big stage and now we just need to get out on the pitch in South Africa, entertain the fans, and dream about progressing as far as we possibly can.”