12 players you didn’t know still play in South America – like Roque Santa Cruz

South American footballers are forced to venture half-way around the world to Europe if they want to make the most of their career.

As much as their nations produce fantastic football talent, the domestic game on the continent is miles behind the likes of the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga.

This means their leagues are packed with up-and-coming stars looking to earn a big move and experienced players who have returned home to see out their last years.

There's a whole host of familiar faces plying their trade in South America, so Daily Star Sport are looking at 12 you probably didn't know are still playing.

Diego Costa

Chelsea had an animal of striker when Diego Costa was at Stamford Bridge, but his three-year spell after joining Atletico Madrid was lacklustre.

He signed for Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro in August this year and has since scored five goals in 14 appearances, helping them to top the Serie A at present.

Maxi Rodriguez

Who shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments section.

Former Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez is 40 years old and still playing in his native Argentina!

He's understandably made just a handful of substitute appearances for Newells Old Boys, who he joined from the Reds in 2012, so far this season.


Despite never playing for a major team in Europe, Hulk became very well-known because of his outrageous physique.

A man so in shape is of course still playing aged 35, and his goals for Mineiro alongside Costa earned him a shock recall to the Brazil squad in September after a five-year absence.

Luiz Adriano

Striker Luiz Adriano earned himself a £12m move to AC Milan in 2015 after years of firing in goals for Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 34-year-old flopped in Italy, though, and after a brief spell in Russia moved to Palmeiras in Brazil where he has been since 2019.

Felipe Melo

Brazil's Felipe Melo has accumulated nearly £40m in transfer fees during his career, which shows the talent the midfielder held at his peak.

He chose Italy and Turkey to make a name for himself and is still going for Palmeiras too at the age of 38.

Fabricio Coloccini

A true Newcastle cult hero, Fabricio Coloccini left the Premier League club over five years ago now.

But he's still going strong at 39 years old in the heart of defence for Argentinian struggles Aldosivi, and was sent off in a game against River Plate earlier this season.

Filipe Luis

Left-back Filipe Luis joined Chelsea in the same window as Costa, but his time with the Blues was a lot less impressive and they sold him after just one season.

He was then also with the striker at Atletico, where he spent four seasons before leaving for Flamengo, who are Costa and Mineiro's main title rivals.


Before the Manchester United flop came along, there was another Brazilian Fred, who landed up being the nation's first-choice striker at the 2014 World Cup.

He'd been firing goals in for Fluminense, but the disastrous 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany was the last time he was seen in a Brazil shirt.

After a couple of spells away, he's now back at Fluminense aged 38.


When Man City hadn't yet figured out what to do with all their newfound wealth, they splashed roughly £20m on Jo in 2008.

Moving from Russia to the Premier League was unsurprisingly too big a step, and he flopped big time, but as he was only 21 then, he's still going for Corinthians in his home country.

Hugo Rodallega

Ex-Wigan and Fulham frontman Hugo Rodallega, 36, recently returned to South American football after nearly thirteen years in Europe.

Since leaving the Prem in 2015, the Colombian has had three different spells in Turkey, and then joined relegation-threatened Brazilian side Bahia in July.

He scored four goals in one game after the switch but they still have work to do in the final few games.

Abel Hernandez

Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez scored 20 goals in the Championship for Hull City in the 2015/16 season, but he was out of his depth in the English top-flight.

As such, he left in 2018, went to Russia and Qatar before joining Internacional and then jumping ship to join Fred at Fluminense.

Roque Santa Cruz

Premier League defenders from the 2007/08 season are still having nightmares about Paraguay legend Roque Santa Cruz.

Luckily for them, his £19m move from Blackburn to City didn't go to plan like Jo's, and he moved to Spain for a few years.

In 2016, he returned to his home country and although he's now 40, the striker is a regular for Olimpia Asuncion.

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