Willian’s late addition to Brazil’s squad for the 2019 Copa America, which kicks off in Sao Paulo on Friday, means that Chelsea will again be represented at the world’s oldest international continental football tournament this year.
The cosmopolitan nature of the Blues over the past quarter of a century has seen a number of our prominent players making their mark in the quadrennial South American football extravaganza.
While Gus Poyet is best remembered by Chelsea fans for his spell with the Blues from 1997 to 2001 when his collection of crucial goals included the winner against Real Madrid in the 1998 Super Cup, the Uruguayan midfielder also tasted success on the international stage before his arrival at Stamford Bridge.
Poyet played only 26 games for Uruguay but he was a key player when they hosted the Copa America in July 1995 and helped them to lift the trophy for the 14th time after a penalty shoot-out victory over World Cup holders Brazil in the final.
A Premier League winner with Chelsea in 2005/06, Hernan Crespo appeared for Argentina in three World Cups but did not play in the Copa America until he had left the Blues and returned to Inter Milan.
Making his Copa debut in Venezuela in 2007, Crespo scored twice in a 4-1 win over the United States and then converted a penalty in a 4-2 victory over Colombia in their second match.
However, he was injured in the latter game and played no further part in the competition as Argentina were beaten 3-0 by Brazil in the final.
Also appearing in that 2007 final was Brazil centre-back Alex, who was set to join Chelsea from PSV Eindhoven after the tournament.
The big defender was an ever-present for Dunga’s side in Venezuela as they recovered from an opening 2-0 loss to Mexico to reach the final, where they outplayed the Argentinians to lift the trophy for the eighth time.
He went on to spend five seasons with the Blues, helping us to win the Double in 2009/10 and scoring some cracking goals along the way.
Signed by Chelsea in 2010 after an impressive World Cup campaign with Brazil, Ramires represented his country again at the Copa America a year later as they attempted to defend their title in Argentina.
The hard-running midfielder was an ever-present in Mano Menezes’ side but Brazil failed to get past the quarter-finals after missing all four of their penalties in a shoot-out loss to Paraguay.
Ramires made up for that disappointment by playing a huge role in Chelsea’s double success in 2011/12, scoring crucial goals in our Champions League semi-final win against Barcelona and in the FA Cup final against Liverpool.
Having joined Chelsea from Benfica in January 2011, David Luiz was selected in the Brazil squad for the 2011 Copa America but he did not play in the tournament in Argentina because of a knee problem.
He was at Paris Saint-Germain by the time of the next tournament in Chile in 2015 and was a starting centre-back when Brazil beat Peru 2-1 in their opening game.
However, he was replaced by Thiago Silva for their remaining games of the tournament as they again went out in the quarter-finals after another penalty shoot-out loss to Paraguay.
Willian will be hoping to make it third time lucky at the Copa America after being called up by Brazil to replace the injured Neymar for the upcoming tournament on home soil.
The Chelsea winger started all four matches for his country in 2015 but he was replaced during the quarter-finals by Douglas Costa who went on to miss a crucial penalty in the shoot-out loss to Paraguay.
He was again a starter in all of Brazil’s matches at the Copa America Centenario in the United States in 2016 but Dunga’s side were surprisingly eliminated in the opening round after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Ecuador and lost 1-0 to Peru.