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Chilean footballer Alexis Sanchez is shown before a South American qualifier football match against Brazil for the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010, at Pituacu stadium, in Salvador, northern Brazil, on Sept. 9, 2009. Brazil defeated Chile 4-2. ((Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images) )

Alexis Sanchez

Born: Dec. 19, 1988, in Tocopilla Chile

Position: Striker/midfielder

Nickname: El Nino Maravilla (the Wonder Boy)

Clubs played for: Alexis Sanchez’s talent was evident at such a young age that Udinese paid Chilean club Cobreloa nearly $5 million for the then 17-year-old in 2007. Colo-Colo and River Plate both paid Udinese for the chance to help Sanchez develop in South America from 2006-2008 — with both teams, Sanchez won Clausara and Apetura titles. The 21-year-old finally made his first appearance for Udinese in 2008 and has played 70 times for the Zebrette (little zebras).

International career: Sanchez was a member of the Chilean squad that placed third in the 2007 Under-20 World Cup. During qualification for the 2010 World Cup, Sanchez started several games for La Roja (The red) and scored three times as the country qualified for its first World Cup since 1998.

Why is he so special? Sanchez is certainly not a tall forward — at five feet, seven inches, El Nino Maravilla might not look imposing, but there is a hidden power that rises to the surface when the 21-year-old is in full flight. Whenever he runs into the opposition's half, Sanchez is sure to have defenders trailing — sometimes hanging — behind.

His most famous moment: While playing for River Plate in his first Superclasico against Boca Juniors, Sanchez jetted past five Boca players before being hauled down in front of goal. Not even a reckless tackle could spoil this moment of clean skill, or save Boca from a penalty.

He said it: "I'm still focused on Udinese, but I have personal ambitions this summer and England and Spain are sensational leagues."

What they’re saying about him: "He's a striker capable of weaving past three of four defenders and winning you games. Single-handedly, he can unlock any defensive formation." — Arturo Vidal, Chile teammate

Here is an interesting fact: In 2007, Sanchez placed 42nd on World Soccer’s list of the top 50 teenage players.