Fame and recognition did not come immediately to the free-scoring Hector Mancilla, whose outstanding attributes are his nose for goal and keen positional sense in the penalty area. Born in the small Chilean town of Purranque, his professional career began in 1999 at the modest club of Malleco Unido, where he spent barely a year before moving to Huachipato.
He played for five seasons at the Talcahuano-based side, during which he notched up 54 goals in 129 games, finishing top scorer of the 2005 Apertura with 13 goals. A subsequent spell at Colo Colo in 2006 was short on time but long on goals, Mancilla hitting the back of the net 12 times in 15 matches before being transferred to Veracruz in the Mexican Premier Division. The striker’s best seasons to date, however, have been played in the jersey of another Mexican team, Toluca. He finished the country’s leading scorer as part of the club’s 2008 Apertura and 2009 Clausura Championship-winning teams, with 11 and 14 goals respectively.
As regards the national team, Mancilla was a member of then Chile coach Juvenal Olmos’ Copa America 2004 squad, but he played no part in either the qualifying campaign for 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ or in the initial round of matches that would eventually lead to South Africa 2010. Marcelo Bielsa, current coach of La Roja, brought him back into the fold in mid-2009, although he only managed to clock up a few minutes in the games played against Paraguay and Bolivia in June.
Bielsa is a fan of the alternative option offered by the 29-year-old hotshot, and while places up front are at a premium within the Chile line-up, Mancilla’s positive attitude and willingness to fill in when necessary have ensured his inclusion in the coach’s final 23-man squad.