Mauricio Aníbal Isla Isla, popularly known as Mauricio Isla is a Chilean professional football player who was born on 12 June 1988 in Buin, Chile.
Isla is a hard-working, versatile and tactically sound player who plays as a right-back and right-midfielder but due to his presence of mind and pace, he can also play from numerous more positions such as defensive midfield, central midfield, left midfield and right wing. Currently, he is playing for Turkish club Fenerbahçe as well as Chile national team.
At the age of just 11, Isla began his football career by joining youth ranks and training academy of Santiago based Primera División club Universidad Católica. Initially he wanted to be a forward and started off playing from the forward position, but later club management turned him into a defender. There were two main reasons which led Isla to be a defender- first, club didn't have quality youth defenders and second, Isla’s lack of height.
Playing as his new position, he was proved to be an asset for his team and played some memorable games. After serving the club from 1999 to 2006, he received his senior team call up in 2006. However, he did not play any official match and was sent back to youth team by coach José del Solar.
Isla made his youth international debut for Chile U-20 on 1 July 2007 against Canada U-20. Later, he also participated in 2007 South American Youth Championship as well as 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Isla was widely appreciated for his skills and techniques after his youth international debut. As a result, Serie A club Udinese signed him for a five-year deal. On 19 December 2007, he made his professional debut in a match of Coppa Italia against Palermo. However, his first match as a starter had came later on 8 March 2008 against the same team and was ended up on a 1-1 draw.
Isla’s international debut for Chile had come even before his Udinese debut. On 7 September 2007, he played his first international game against Switzerland. He was good enough on the field in his debut match that he received his second call up in the very second friendly against Israel.
Rise to glory
Isla's consistent performances after his debut made him a regular player of Chile. He played his first FIFA fixture in March 2009 when Chile faced Peru in 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Later, in the main tournament, he featured in the starting eleven for all 4 games Chile played.
On 7 September 2010, Isla scored his first international goal in a friendly against Ukraine. His goal was a sole hit from his side, as a result Chile had lost the game by 1-2. In 2011, he was in the squad for 2011 Copa America and played in 3 of 4 games.
At the 2015 Copa America, Isla was key player for his team providing assists and creating goal scoring opportunities. In the quarter final of the tournament, he lived up his best moment scoring the only goal of the game and leading his team to semifinals for the first time since 1999. Later, they defeated Argentina in the final and won their first title.
Isla had also played an important role in Chile’s successful campaign of 2016 Copa América Centenario.
Starting with Udinese, Isla played for a number of clubs in his career including Juventus FC, Olympique Marseille, Cagliari Calcio and Queens Park Rangers. Appearing for Udinese Calcio, he played his most number of games. Playing 152 games for his first club, he scored 7 goals and provided 21 assists. His all 7 goals had came in Serie A.
He has also played 26 games of Premier League. Although, he has not got any goal in this particular tournament. Overall he had 10 goals and 40 assists in his name featuring in 336 games for various clubs.
Isla has played 100 games for Chile since his debut in 2007, scoring 4 goals including a decisive goal of Copa America quarter final. He was also included in the 2016 Copa America Team of the Tournament which had won their second title that year in a row.