5 most unexpected Golden Boot winners at Copa America

These five players won the Golden Boot unexpectedly
These five players won the Golden Boot unexpectedly

Copa America is the oldest international tournament in football. While it's not as glamorous an affair as the World Cup or the Euros, the South American championship still grabs plenty of eyeballs from around the world.

One important reason for that is the sheer number of top stars participating in it, as the region has consistently produced world-class talents throughout history. As a result, there's always intense competition for individual honors too, particularly the Golden Boot.

Many great stars have got their hands on the prize in the past. Pele, Gabriel Batistuta, Ronaldo, and Rivaldo are just to name a few. But we've seen numerous players offer surprises by winning it against all the odds. Here are the top 5 unexpected winners of the Copa America Golden Boot.

#5 Everton (Brazil) - Copa America 2019

Everton won the Copa America 2019 finals for Brazil with a brace
Everton won the Copa America 2019 finals for Brazil with a brace

Despite the absence of their star man Neymar through injury, Brazil romped to the Copa America title on home soil in 2019.

The Seleccao stars swept all the individual honors too, one of them being Everton for the Golden Boot. He scored only thrice. But that included a crucial goal against Peru in the finals. Talk of coming up clutch.

None of the big stars like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero, Edinson Cavani, etc. enjoyed a particularly good period in front of goal. Instead, the now-Benfica striker took home the competition's top-scorer award.

Note: He shared the Golden Boot with Peru's Paulo Guerrero, who also finished with three goals.

#4 Eduardo Vargas (Chile) - Copa America 2016

Four of Vargas' six goals came in the 7-0 rout of Mexico
Four of Vargas' six goals came in the 7-0 rout of Mexico

Eduardo Vargas had already got a taste of winning the Golden Boot a year before the special Centenario edition. He finished as the top-scorer with four goals as La Roja won their first major title.

But in Copa America 2016, his chances of repeating the trick were few and far between. With just two goals in the bag until the semi-finals, he was trailing a number of players, including the in-form Lionel Messi, who was cruising to the award.

However, in Chile's 7-0 drubbing of Mexico in the last-four, the striker netted four times in an incredible display of attacking prowess. His sensational performance took him to six goals and above everyone else.

He was not to be surpassed by anyone for the remainder of the tournament. And just like that, out of nowhere, Vargas took home the Golden Boot for the second consecutive edition of Copa America.

#3 Luis Diaz (Colombia) - Copa America 2021

Diaz was Colombia's star player at Copa America 2019
Diaz was Colombia's star player at Copa America 2019

Colombia had two highly prolific strikers in their Copa America squad like Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel. Yet their biggest source of goals was someone who'd only netted twice for the Cafeteros before entering the competition.

FC Porto star Luis Diaz had a breakout campaign with four goals, the joint-most with Lionel Messi. Not bad company to be in.

And he wasn't merely stat-padding. The 24-year-old scored against Brazil in the group stages, Argentina in the semi-finals and finally a brace against Peru in the third-place play-offs.

Remember the name.

#2 Luis Hernandez (Mexico) - Copa America 1997

Luis Hernandez was the name on every Mexican's lips after Copa America 1997
Luis Hernandez was the name on every Mexican's lips after Copa America 1997

Any talk of the best strikers of 1990s would invariably end up centered around the usual suspects such as Ronaldo, Marco van Basten, Rivaldo, Alan Shearer, Romario etc.

But among the most underrated was Mexican fireball Luis Hernandez. He truly announced himself to the world with his scoring exploits at the Copa America 1997. The striker bagged six goals, beating O Fenameno to the Golden Boot in a very unexpected result.

He was also just the second Mexican ever to clinch the prize, following in the footsteps of Luis Garcia from two years prior. Hernandez's goalscoring heroics may not have helped El Tri win the prize, but he was their most valuable player and helped them to a third-place finish.

#1 Paolo Guerrero (Peru) - Copa America 2011

A targetman as deadly as any!
A targetman as deadly as any!

In Copa America 2011, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan were among the winners. Lionel Messi was the biggest attraction. Neymar was a rising star. And yet, the Golden Boot went to a then lesser known Paolo Guerrero of Peru. The striker bagged five goals in the campaign.

He started the run with a goal against Uruguay in the opening game before firing home the match-winner against Mexico, which qualified Los Incas for the knockout stages.

Although he didn't have much luck in those rounds, Guerrero then bagged a hat-trick against Venezuela to help the side clinch third place.

Arguably the finest Peruvian player of the century, he then went on to bag two more top-scorer awards in 2015 and 2019. In the process, he became the only player besides Pedro Petrone to win the Golden Boot thrice.

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Edited by Parimal
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