Top 5: Copa America top scorers

South America has long been known for producing phenomenal strikers. As such, the Copa America often brings together many of the world’s finest goalscorers.

The 2011 iteration, for example, saw Carlos Tevez, Sergio Agüero, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Radamel Falcao, Alexandre Pato, Neymar, Alexis Sánchez, Diego Forlán and Luis Suárez all fighting for the golden boot.

But this list of all-time Copa America top scorers contains a few surprising names. So without further ado, here are the top five Copa America goalscorers.

Paolo Guerrero's goals led Peru to second place in 2019 – (Photo: Nayra Halm/Fotoarena)

Top 5: Copa America top scorers

5. Paolo Guerrero – 14

Kicking off our list is Peru hero Paolo Guerrero. Despite being a less-heralded name than those mentioned above, the Peruvian striker beat all of them to the 2011 Copa America golden boot.

Fast forward 13 years, and the now-40-year-old is captaining his nation at what is surely his final tournament. He has won a remarkable three Copa America golden boots.

Guerrero is his nation’s top scorer of all time and is the only Peruvian to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or. 

After spending a decade in Germany early in his career, Guerrero has toured South America, scoring in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and now back home in his native Peru.

Eduardo Vargas was a Chilean hero in 2015 and 2016 – (Photo: Imago)

5. Eduardo Vargas – 14

The only other active player in this top five is Chile’s Eduardo Vargas. The 34-year-old had an underwhelming European leg in his career, failing to make an impact at the likes of Napoli, QPR and Hoffenheim.

But Vargas has always stepped up a gear for his nation. Chile famously won back to back Copa America titles in 2015 and 2016, and Vargas was indispensable both times, winning back to back golden boots.

Vargas has settled nicely at Atlético Mineiro, and with another strong Copa America campaign in the USA, he could climb even higher up this list

3. Lolo Fernández – 15

Moving back over 80 years, another Peruvian hero makes this list.

Teodoro “Lolo” Fernández was a one-club man, playing all of his 24 year career at Peruvian club Universitario. 

A true icon of Peruvian football, Fernández scored 24 goals for his nation in just 32 appearances. He won the 1939 Copa América, and of course finished as top scorer.

Fernández was known for his immensely powerful shooting, earning himself the nickname ‘El Cañonero’.

3. Severino Varela – 15

One of El Cañonero’s contemporaries was Uruguay striker Severino Varela.

Varela outscored the likes of Diego Forlán and Luis Suárez at the Copa América, netting 15 in total at the famous old tournament, including five at the 1942 iteration, which Uruguay won.

Instantly recognisable on the pitch thanks to the white beret he insisted on wearing, Varela was an incredibly well-rounded forward. 

During his two year spell with Boca Juniors, Varela scored 43 goals, 16 were headers, highlighting his physical prowess. But he also scored an astonishing 13 free-kicks, illustrating his guile and craft with the ball at his feet.

Zizinho inspired many Brazilian greats – (Photo: Imago)

1= Zizinho – 17

Sitting jointly atop our list is Brazilian attacking midfielder Zizinho, who scored a remarkable 17 Copa America goals without being his team’s number nine.

Zizinho is widely considered one of the greatest pre-Pelé era players for Brazil, and he was in fact the great man’s idol.

Pelé said of Zizinho that “He was a complete player. He played in midfield, in attack, he scored goals, he could mark, head and cross.”

Zizinho won the 1949 Copa América as top scorer, and was the star of the cursed Brazilian 1950 World Cup side that suffered a shock defeat to Uruguay at home.

Despite his goalscoring exploits, Zizinho was surprisingly selfless, declining the Brazilian national side’s late invitations to return for the 1954 and 1958 World Cups as he felt it would be unfair on the player dropped at the last minute.

1= Norberto Méndez – 17

The only Argentinian with more Copa America goals than Lionel Messi’s 13 is Norberto Méndez. 

The charismatic striker scored a staggering 17 Copa America goals in just three tournaments. The cherry on top is that Argentina won all three of his tournaments.

An old-fashioned inside-forward, Méndez had a successful club career too, playing for Huracánm Racing Club and Tigre.


William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.