Eduardo Li (left), President of the Costa Rican Football Federation, and national team head coach Paulo Wanchope at a press conference on February 3, 2015. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Four months after guiding Costa Rica to the Central American Cup title in an interim capacity, Paulo Cesar Wanchope was elevated to the position of head coach permanently on Tuesday.
The 38-year-old will be tasked with leading the Ticos to the next FIFA World Cup on the heels of an historic run to the quarterfinals at Brazil 2014.
"I have to my side an icon of the Costa Ricans and of national football. It is a true honor to introduce Paulo Cesar Wanchope as the official head coach of the national football team,” said Eduardo Li, president of the Costa Rican Football Federation, introducing Wanchope at a press conference.
Wanchope, widely considered as one of the best footballers in Costa Rican football history, kept the challenge ahead of him in perspective.
"I understand and I know that everyone wants to see the team win and win well,” said Wanchope. “I am of very few words and even today, I’m not going to do anything different than what I've done in my career. I have fought. I have persevered. I have been professional and, above all, I love this shirt. I’m going to give everything so that Costa Rica is well represented in order to exceed expectations, but we can improve. There is room for that, and I am confident that we will achieve the goal of Russia 2018 and, of course, on the road there will be other important objectives such as the Gold Cup and (Copa) America.”
As a player, Wanchope enjoyed an outstanding club career that took him to four continents. After earning his professional debut with hometown Herediano, he made the jump to Europe, playing with Derby County (1997-99), Manchester City (1999-2000) and West Ham (2000-04) in England, before moving to Spain’s Malaga (2004-05). From there, Wanchope went on to Al Gharafa (Qatar, 2005), Herediano (Costa Rica, 2006), Rosario Central (Argentina, 2006), FC Tokyo (Japan, 2007) and the Chicago Fire (USA, 2007).
With Costa Rica, his achievements are arguably unequalled. Wanchope is Costa Rica’s all-time leading scorer with 45 goals (21 in World Cup qualifiers) in 73 appearances. He has netted in the FIFA World Cup finals, World Cup qualifying, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Copa America and the Central American Cup.
Wanchope struck for both of the Ticos’ goals in a 4-2 loss to host Germany in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and he was the joint-top scorer with Mexico’s Luis Hernandez at the 1998 Gold Cup with four goals.
In last year’s World Cup, Wanchope was an assistant to head coach Jorge Luis Pinto.