A classy, elegant footballer, Gonzalo Jara is the latest in a long line of cultured Chilean centre-backs. He has become known for his impressive aerial ability and calm reading of the game, qualities that have turned him into a certain starter under Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa.
His first professional club was Huachipato in Talcahuano, Jara’s native city. From there he moved on to Colo Colo, where he spent three successful seasons. He then crossed the ocean in 2009 to join West Bromwich Albion in England, where he flourished until a recent unfortunate injury.
The versatile defender, who played in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands, appears to enjoy Bielsa’s full confidence, the Argentinian having called him up consistently since taking over the Chilean national team. During the qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, Jara took part in 13 matches, chipping in with two valuable goals against Venezuela and Colombia.
A broken metatarsal suffered while performing for his club in mid-February seemed to have put his FIFA World Cup hopes in jeopardy. However, despite being sidelined for months, Jara recovered in time to take his place on the plane to South Africa. As one of La Roja’s key men, Chilean fans, as well as Marcelo Bielsa, will be mightily relieved.