How many years can a “golden generation” be around in modern football?

After not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the question was forced: is the so-called "golden generation" over, which for a decade had

After not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the question was forced: is the so-called “golden generation” over, which for a decade had Chile as the protagonist of world football?

Today, when the Red is just three points away from the playoff quota for the Qatar World Cup 2022 -and ahead of the double date of the qualifying rounds, against Paraguay and Ecuador in November-, it arrived in our mailbox at Answerdog, from WatchDog GUIDELINE, the next question: How long does a golden generation in football last? Our sniffing dog put on his soccer shoes and went looking for the answer.

What is meant by a golden generation?

National teams that marked a before and after. Generations of footballers who broke paradigms, who with their styles of play gave an imprint to their squads and who crowned their good game with international titles. Even some teams that did not win championships, but are still remembered by the fans. That is the golden generations.

“When we talk about golden generations, we refer to super elite footballers with extraordinary physical and mental abilities and, most importantly, who have a purpose as a group,” he says. Jose Matas, orthopedic surgeon for the men’s soccer team at the University of Chile.

In the case of Chile, everything goes back to 2007, when the generational change began. Appeared Alexis Sanchez, Arturo vidal, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel, Mauricio Island and Charles Aránguiz, among others. Everyone recognizes that Jose Sulantay He was the manager of this group. Nelson Acosta debuted some and the arrival of Marcelo bielsa It was the springboard of performance. With Jorge Sampaoli and Juan Antonio Pizzi continental titles appeared.

Thus, it was established as the most winning team in the history of the Red, statistically surpassing the third place obtained in the 1962 World Cup. In the recent record, the third place obtained in the U-20 World Cup in Canada (2007) stands out. Copa América against Argentina (2015 and 2016), the runner-up in the Confederations Cup 2017 and an unprecedented qualification for two World Cups achieved on the court: South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014 (before they had played the World Cups in 1962 and 1966 in a row, but in the first did not qualify, but was the host).


It is the question that reached the mailbox of our Contestadog and that we are now trying to answer as quickly as possible.

Golden generation statistics

Before the Golden Generation (1910-2007)

Golden Generation (2007-2021)

Average of goals scored



Average of goals conceded



% Performance



Finals played



Finals won






Chart of own elaboration. As Chile data.

How long is a golden generation?

There are several factors that could determine how long a national team could remain in the elite of world football. According to health, nutrition and psychology experts, group cohesion, mentality, personal football qualities and technological advances are essential to achieve sports hegemony.

“A golden generation today could easily spend 10 years in the football elite. At a nutritional level it is increasingly personalized. The fundamental thing is to sleep, eat, rest, good hydration and supplementation. These factors, plus technological advances, influenced in the performance, recovery times and successes of the Chilean team “, affirms Gonzalo rozas, nutritionist of the Barnechea Soccer Club and Alemana Sports.

Along the same lines, Matas, who worked with several players from the golden generation during Jorge Sampaoli’s time, adds that “at 34 a footballer is beginning to lose the ability to be in the super elite. The maximum potential of a generation golden is from 18 years to 30-32 years “.

Another factor that explains the number of years that national players were in the elite of world football was the psychological and support work they received from a very young age.

“What was done with this golden generation was almost perfect. They were accompanied in all areas of general training, the players excelled in their minor categories, they immediately sought experiences, they were given the opportunity to debut and were always guided by their teams”, add Antonio Ceresuela, sports psychologist from Colo Colo.

For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar -which will be held in November next year- the base of the players of the golden generation will be over 30 years old and will be in the culminating stage of their careers: Claudio Bravo (39 years old), Mauricio Isla (34 years old). years), Gary Medel (35 years old), Arturo Vidal (35 years old), Charles Aránguiz (33 years old), Alexis Sánchez (34 years old) and Eduardo Vargas (33 years old).

Although some believe that the cap was the 2017 Confederations Cup, when the final against Germany was lost – after a gross error of the steering wheel Marcelo Diaz– and later the classification to Russia 2018 was not achieved.

“The main players of the golden generation who belonged to the elite of world football today are no longer in the best teams due to physical issues, a trend that will continue to increase over the years,” he says. Juan Jose Guerrero, director of the Center for Soccer Studies at the Universidad de los Andes (CEFU), who adds that Qatar could be the top.

Golden generations around the world

Uruguay had the first great generation in memory. In the 1920s it was absolute dominator on a global level. He was champion in the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games, to culminate that generation with the obtaining of the first World Cup, held in his country, in 1930, defeating Argentina 4-2.

The Uruguayan generation that also dominated at the international level was that of the “Maracanazo”, which beat the local Brazil in the 1950 World Cup final. Said cast led by Obdulio Varela he was more than 4 years without losing any international game. They only fell in the semifinal of the World Cup in Switzerland (1954) against Hungary, a selection that would fall in the final with Germany.

Next stop: Brazil. “The squad commanded by Pele, world champion three times (1958, 1962 and 1970, which earned her a definitive win the trophy Jules rimet) was absolute dominator in its time. Then comes the 2002 generation, with Ronaldo, the best team in all history, undefeated in all 7 World Cup games, the only team that has won all the games in a World Cup, which won two America’s Cups (1997 and 1999) and the Confederations Cup (1997) “, comments the journalist Jose Luis Fernandez, founder of the Center for Sports Studies (CEDEP), dedicated to data and statistics on the sports history of Chile.

Argentina also knows of golden generations. From the hand of Diego Armando Maradona They were world champions in Mexico 1986 against Germany, showing a great footballing level, which led them again to the World Cup final in Italy 1990, although they fell in the final with the Germans. It also highlights the obtaining of two Copa América (1991 in Chile and 1993 in Ecuador), in addition to the Copa Rey Fahd in 1992 (the predecessor of the Confederations Cup).

Crossing the Atlantic we find great generations. “The German process is worth studying. Of the five World Cups held between 1974 and 1990, they were champions in two and runners-up in another two. They are teams that had a base and were mixed with new players,” adds Guerrero.

To this day, a Clockwork Orange is remembered, the famous Holland commanded by its captain Johan cruyff. Despite having fallen in the finals of the World Cup in Germany 1974 and Argentina 1978 -both in front of the locals- this Dutch generation is remembered for the stamp of the game and its “total football” driven by Rinus michels.

“Spain spent five years with soccer hegemony, winning two European Cups (2008 and 2012) and the 2010 World Cup at the hands of Vicente del Bosque, with a large base of players from Barcelona and Real Madrid “, Fernández says.

WatchDog GUIDELINE is a joint fact-checking project between the Faculty of Communication of the Universidad de los Andes and PATTERN. It seeks to take issues on the agenda and track their veracity from a positive, not an inquisitive perspective.

The section Answer dog answers questions that come from the audience through social networks.


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