Pinilla, the master of “Chilena”

In 1871, when in Sheffield Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest devised the so-called Sheffield Rules, the first football code, they took important decisions. First of all about aerial play. Something that would seem crazy for future British footballers.

Although fútbol, firstly that from Rio de la Plata, would add a new and spectacular gesture created for fans’ entertainment. Neither in London or in Sheffield. According to some sources the decisive contribution for the introduction of this new move came from Chile, where football was young and unripe. Everything began thanks to Ramón Unzaga, born in the Basque Country but grown up in Chile. He worked as accounter in a mine owned by Schwager Company.
After playing a football with his colleagues, Unzaga decided to quite swimming and running, his passions. The most important team where the Basque-born footballer played was Escuela Chorera. In 1916, wearing the shirt of this side, Ramón reversed his body, overturned English football beliefs and also a way of thinking this sport. He put his feet, where he normally put his head. This new move was called Chorera, in honour of the team name. Something strange, controversial, but especially unconventional.

It was so unconventional that not everyone understand it. That’s the problem that great innovators have to face in the history.

During a match in 1918, a referee considered foul every attempt to do the Chorera. Or better said Chilena, as Argentinian journalists began to call it. After Unzaga’s protest the referee decided to sent the player off. At end of the match they tried to clear up the situation. Unzaga knocked the referee out.


The Chilena, as any other brilliant inventions, would survive its creator and its detractors. The bicycle kick was perfected by legendary player David Arellano, who is considered one of the fathers of Chilean football. Quite prolific striker, executive and revolutionary, Arellano has been something more in his homeland. Because of lacking football perspective in Chile, Arellano founded his own club, called Colo Colo as the Mapuche leader who defeated Spanish conquerors in the 16th century.
Almost 100 years after Unzaga, 90 years after Arellano‘s premature death, it was added a new chapter in the wonderful story of bicycle kick. The author of these new pages is another Chilean player who “blossomed” in a fierce rival of Colo Colo.

Mauricio Pinilla, who has grown up in Universidad de Chile, is one of the best interpreters of bicycle kick, a move that can summarize his whole career. Mauricio‘s football history, which began with high expectations and the “label” of Salas and Zamorano‘s successor, slowed down when he arrived in Europe.

I’ve been around for many years, when I was young. I had the wrong mentality and escaped from my difficulties. Now I regret it a little bit. If I would have been more focused and professional, my career could have been different”

said Mauricio in a interview.

It’s the change of your point of view that can change your life. As regards football, Pinilla began to watch the world upside down. As he had already done in October 2003 when Mauricio scored a wonderful bycicle kick for Chile under-23 against Paraguay. Of course with an overhead kick.
In Grosseto Pinilla was reborn, gaining again the first Italian division with 24 goals in 24 matches. Then he played for Palermo, Cagliari, Genoa and Atalanta. At that time Mauricio was also called up by Marcelo Bielsa and gradually he became a regular first team player for Chile national side.


In the meantime Pinilla won two Copa América and at 2014 World Cup La Roja was eliminated in the round of 16 by Brazil. There Chilean player went too close to make history hitting the bar in the added time of that match. A crossbar which is already legendary, a post which stopped the shout of a whole nation.

Pinilla wanted to tattoo that moment on his skin, as he would recall the highest point of this career. Last season he scored his 11th bicycle kick goal. A formidable number.

Acrobatics are always easy for me. Since I was guy. Bicycle kick is beautiful to watch it, fans like it. I try it everytime I can, without a thought”.

A move against football conventions. Something that touches you when you admire it. Like this, with a concept of football whose roots went deep in Chile, in Ramón Unzaga and David Arellano arriving until him, Mauricio Ricardo Pinilla, Pinigol or El acrobata.

Thanks to Umbro and Umbro Italia for video and photo content.