- Jan 30, 2008
Full name - Mauricio Aníbal Isla Isla
Date of birth - 12 June 1988 (age 23)
Place of birth - Buin, Chile
Height - 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position - Right Wingback
Isla started in the youth ranks of Universidad Católica in 1999 as a forward. However his lack of height caused him to switch positions to defender, as Católica lacked quality youth defenders. Isla played well enough in the new position to earn a call-up to the first team in 2006, but never played an official match and in 2007, coach José del Solar sent him back to the youth team.
Isla had a notable performance during the summer of 2007 in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada and was thereafter signed by Udinese of the Serie A in Italy on a 5 year contract. Like Roberto Carlos and Cafu of 2002 World Cup winners Brazil, Isla fits the description of a traditional South American full back when asked to fulfill a rather defensive role in the wings. He can both defend and attack and has been known to turn innocent possession-based games into quick-paced counterattacks with ease. His technique is well accompanied by a surprising pace and stamina. Isla made his professional debut on December 19, 2007 versus Palermo in the Coppa Italia. On March 8, 2008, Isla played his first game as a starter in Serie A for Udinese, also against Palermo, a game which ended in a 1–1 draw. For Udinese, Isla has admitted he has had to adapt his style by being more conservative with his game. In the games he started for the Udine club he has played as a right and left back while also playing a few games at wing and centre midfield.
After the departure of Simone Pepe, Isla often played as a right wing-back in a 3–5–2 formation during Udinese's 2010–11 Serie A campaign, due to a long-term injury to Dušan Basta. In 2011–12, he played as a right midfielder in a 4–1–4–1 or 4–4–1–1 formation against Arsenal in the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League playoffs round, also after the departures of several teammates.
Isla took part with Chile in the 2007 South American Youth Championship, where Chile qualified for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. During the U-20 World Cup Isla was noticed worldwide for his skill with the ball and versatility. Isla was an integral part of the team that finished in third place. In the quarterfinal game versus Nigeria, Isla played defender, midfield, and forward due to a number of injuries to other squad members. The game went into extra time after finishing scoreless in regulation and in the added time, Chile scored four goals. Two of the goals came from Isla, one from the penalty spot. After each goal Isla ran over to the Chilean telecast camera (which was marked by a Chilean flag) and dedicated his goals to his grandmother and aunt, who was pregnant. This tournament and his performance in it led Isla to be transferred to Serie A team Udinese before his professional debut in the Chilean league, a very rare occurrence.
New Chilean coach Marcelo Bielsa called Isla up for his first full Chile senior squad international cap in September 2007 in a friendly against Switzerland, the hosts of Euro 2008, versus his club-mate Gökhan Inler. He started as a centre midfielder. His strong performances earned another call-up in the next friendly against Israel, where he came on as a second half substitute. He played his first 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification match in March 2009 as a starter versus Peru. Isla made another start against Uruguay where, in a scoreless draw, he was sent off after 33 minutes following two yellow cards. He was a starter in all of Chile's four 2010 World Cup games.
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