MENDOZA - When Sergio
Livingstone says that the current Chile side is the best he has
ever seen, it is quite a claim. At the age of 91 and having
worked in football all his life, he has seen a few.
Livingstone was Chile's goalkeeper in the 1940s and 1950s.
He appeared in six Copas Americas, playing 34 times - a record
that stands to this day.
He also played at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, captaining
Chile against England in Rio de Janeiro's newly inaugurated
"We lost 2-0. [Wilf] Mannion and [Stan] Mortensen were the
scorers," Livingstone, with a razor-sharp memory that belies his
years, recalls of the game that marked England's World Cup
debut. "It was a great England team. They had a fine goalkeeper,
Bert Williams, and Billy Wright was their captain."
Six decades later and despite his age, Livingstone works as
a lively and perceptive pundit for Chilean state broadcaster
He still goes to all Chile's matches. When he arrived at the
stadium for their game against Peru last week, white haired and
walking with the aid of a crutch, he was given a standing
ovation by the Chilean fans.
More than 70 years have passed since Livingstone made his
Copa America debut on home soil in 1941.
"There was no television, people didn't have cars and they
took the bus to the stadium," he told Reuters in an interview at
TVN's Copa America studios in Mendoza. "There were no perimeter
fences in the ground, and it filled up very early. There wasn't
much else to do in those days."
Livingstone played in Copas in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and
Uruguay between 1942 and 1953 but he missed the 1946 edition in
"In December 1945 I injured my knee," he recalled. "The Copa
started in January 1946 and I had to skip it. It's the knee that
still gives me problems today."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he regards the Brazil side of 1970
as the best he has ever seen, although he rates Argentine-born
Alfredo Di Stefano above Pele.
"Di Stefano was a tremendous player, although of course he
played before the television era and he never played at a World
Cup," said Livingstone, who played - and conceded a goal - against
Di Stefano in a 1-1 draw at the 1947 Copa America in Ecuador.
The grandson of Scottish immigrants, Livingstone remembers
watching his father, John Henry Livingstone, play for Santiago
National, a now-extinct founding member of the Chilean football
"He was a player and a journalist, he organised boxing bouts
and swimming galas and he even went to the  Olympics in
Amsterdam as an official observer," he said.
Courteous and articulate, Livingstone is happy to talk about
his past, but his eyes really light up when he talks about the
current Chile side.
"This is THE Chilean side for me. I've seen many, some good,
some bad, some that have finished as runners-up, some that have
almost won the Copa, but in terms of their football, their
mentality, their intelligence, I've never seen a Chile team like
Despite having witnessed over 30 Copas Americas as a player,
fan and journalist, Livingstone has never seen Chile win it.
They have finished as runners-up four times.
This time, they reached the quarter-finals then fell to
Venezuela 2-1 on Sunday, in line with Livingstone's pessimistic
"I'm always very sceptical, almost negative," he said before
the game in San Juan. "I'm not like the youngsters who say
'We're going to win 4-0'. People are dreamers, and I don't
"It would be great if they won the Copa America but I'm
always fearful - of football, the future, the reality of life,
the hard knocks that sport can sometimes give you."
Now that the Copa is over for them, Chile's next big target
will be the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where Livingstone played
against the English all those years ago.
Will he make the return journey?
"By 2014 I'll be six feet under, looking at the plants from
down below," he said with a chuckle. "It's not a date I'm
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