The Peru national football team has represented Peru in international football since 1927. Organised by the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF), it is one of the 10 members of FIFA’s South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL). The Peruvian team’s performance has been inconsistent; it enjoyed its most successful periods in the 1930s and the 1970s. The team plays most of its home matches at the Estadio Nacional in Lima, the country’s capital.
Peru has won the Copa América twice and qualified for FIFA World Cup finals five times; it also participated in the 1936 Olympic football competition. It has longstanding rivalries with Chile and Ecuador. The team is well known for its white shirts adorned with a diagonal red stripe, which combine Peru’s national colours. This basic design has been used continuously since 1936, and gives rise to the team’s common Spanish nickname, la Blanquirroja (“the white-and-red”).
The Peruvian national team took part in the inaugural FIFA World Cup in 1930 and enjoyed victories in the 1938 Bolivarian Games and the 1939 Copa América, with goalkeeper Juan Valdivieso and forwards Teodoro Fernández and Alejandro Villanueva playing important roles. Peruvian football’s successful period in the 1970s brought it worldwide recognition; the team then included the forward partnership of Hugo Sotil and Teófilo Cubillas, often regarded as Peru’s greatest player, and defender Héctor Chumpitaz. This team qualified for three World Cups and won the Copa América in 1975. Peru last reached the World Cup finals in 1982.
Under the current management of Ricardo Gareca, Peru came third at the 2015 Copa América, reached the quarterfinals of the Copa América Centenario, and secured qualification for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
A total of 59 managers have led the Peru national football team since 1927 (including multiple spells separately); of these, 36 have been from Peru and 23 have been from abroad. Sports analysts and historians generally consider Peru’s most successful managers to have been the Englishman Jack Greenwell and the Peruvian Marcos Calderón. The former managed Peru to triumph in the 1938 Bolivarian Games and the 1939 South American Championship, and the latter led Peru to victory in the 1975 Copa América tournament and coached it at the 1978 FIFA World Cup.Three other managers have led Peru to tournament victories—Juan Carlos Oblitas, Freddy Ternero, and Sergio Markarián each oversaw Peru’s victory in the Kirin Cup in Japan, in 1999, 2005 and 2011, respectively.
Soon after forming Peru’s national football team, the FPF invited Uruguayan coaches Pedro Olivieri and Julio Borelli to manage the squad. Olivieri received the FPF’s first appointment, for the 1927 South American Championship, due to his prior experience managing Uruguay. Borelli became the national team’s second manager, for the 1929 South American Championship, after some years of refereeing football matches in Peru. The Spaniard Francisco Bru, Peru’s third manager and first World Cup coach at the inaugural tournament in 1930, previously had been Spain’s first manager. The FPF next appointed the national team’s first Peruvian coach, Telmo Carbajo, for the 1935 South American Championship. The team’s manager since 2015 is the Argentine Ricardo Gareca.
Managers that brought outstanding changes to the Peru national team’s style of play include the Hungarian György Orth and the Brazilians Didi and Tim. Orth coached Peru from 1957 to 1959; sports historian Andreas Campomar cites Peru’s “4–1 thrashing of England in Lima” as evidence of Orth’s positive influence over the national team’s offensive game. Víctor Benítez, Peru’s defensive midfielder under Orth, attributes the Hungarian with maximizing the team’s potential by accurately placing each player in their optimal positions. Didi coached Peru from 1968 to 1970 and managed it at the 1970 FIFA World Cup; Campomar attributes Didi’s tactics as the reason for Peru’s development of a “free-flowing football” style. Placar, a Brazilian sports journal, attributed Tim, who managed Peru at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, with making Peru “a team that plays beautiful, combining efficiency with that swagger that people thought only existed in Brazil”.
FIFA World Cup
Peru has taken part in the World Cup finals four times. The Peruvian team competed at the first World Cup in 1930 by invitation, and has entered each tournament at the qualifying stage since 1958, qualifying for the finals three times: in 1970, 1978 and 1982. Its all-time record in World Cup qualifying matches, as of 2017, stands at 42 wins, 36 draws and 69 losses. In the finals, the team has won four matches, drawn three and lost eight, with 19 goals in favour and 31 against. Peru won the inaugural FIFA Fair Play Trophy, awarded at the 1970 World Cup, having been the only team not to receive any yellow or red cards during the competition.] Peru has the peculiar distinction of facing the future FIFA World Cup champions during the tournament’s finals phase.
Luis de Souza Ferreira scored Peru’s first World Cup goal on 14 July 1930, in a match against Romania.] José Velásquez scored Peru’s fastest World Cup finals goal—that is, that scored soonest after kick-off—two minutes into the match against Iran on 11 June 1978. Jefferson Farfán is Peru’s top scorer and fifth-overall top scorer in CONMEBOL World Cup qualification, with 16 goals.Teófilo Cubillas is the team’s top scorer in the World Cup finals, with 10 goals in 13 games. During the 1930 competition, a Peruvian became the first player sent off in a World Cup—his identity is disputed between sources. Peru’s Ramón Quiroga holds the unusual record of being the only goalkeeper to commit a foul in the opponent’s side of the pitch in a match at the World Cup finals.
Peru’s national team has taken part in 31 editions of the Copa América since 1927, and has won the competition twice (in 1939 and 1975). The country has hosted the tournament six times (in 1927, 1935, 1939, 1953, 1957 and 2004). Peru’s overall record in the competition is 52 victories, 33 draws, and 57 losses. Peru won the Fair Play award in the 2015 edition.
Demetrio Neyra scored Peru’s first goal in the competition on 13 November 1927, in a match against Bolivia. Christian Cueva scored Peru’s fastest Copa América goal, two minutes into the match against Brazil on 14 June 2015. Three tournaments have featured a Peruvian top scorer—Teodoro Fernández in 1939 and Paolo Guerrero in 2011 and 2015. Fernández, the Copa América’s third-overall scorer, was named best player of the 1939 tournament; Teófilo Cubillas, voted the best player in the 1975 competition, is the only other Peruvian to win this award.
Peru earned its first continental title in 1939, when it won the South American Championship with successive victories over Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. This marked the first time that the competition had been won by a team other than Uruguay, Brazil, or Argentina. Peru became South American champions for the second time in 1975, when it won that year’s Copa América, the first to feature all ten CONMEBOL members. Peru came top of their group in the first round, eliminating Chile and Bolivia, and in the semifinals drew with Brazil over two legs, winning 3–1 in Brazil but losing 2–0 at home. Peru was declared the winner by drawing of lots. In the two-legged final between Colombia and Peru, both teams won their respective home games (1–0 in Bogota and 2–0 in Lima), forcing a play-off in Caracas that Peru won 1–0.
Team records and results
The Peru national football team has played 610 matches since 1927, including friendlies. The largest margin of victory achieved by a Peru side is 9–1 against Ecuador, on 11 August 1938 at the Bolivarian Games in Colombia. The team’s record deficit, 7–0, occurred against Brazil at the 1997 Copa América in Bolivia.
The Peruvian player with the most international caps is Roberto Palacios, who represented the country 128 times between 1992 and 2007. Second is Héctor Chumpitaz, with 105 appearances; Jorge Soto is third with 101. The most capped goalkeeper is Óscar Ibáñez, who played for Peru 50 times between 1998 and 2005. Second is Miguel Miranda with 47 appearances; Ramón Quiroga is third with 40.
The team’s all-time top goalscorer is Paolo Guerrero, with 32 goals in 86 appearances. He is followed by Teófilo Cubillas, who scored 26 goals in 81 appearances, and Teodoro Fernández, with 24 goals in 32 games. Claudio Pizarro scored Peru’s fastest goal, less than a minute into the match against Mexico on 20 August 2003.
Peru’s current captain is forward Paolo Guerrero. Midfielder Leopoldo Basurto was the team’s first captain. Defender Héctor Chumpitaz held the Peruvian team’s leadership position for the longest time, between 1965 and 1981. Forward Claudio Pizarro had the second-longest run as Peru’s captain, between 2003 and 2016. Other notable captains of the national team include Rubén Díaz (1981-1985), Julio César Uribe (1987-1989), Juan Reynoso (1993-1999), and Nolberto Solano (2000-2003)