Costa Rica’s all-time leading scorer When Rolando Fonseca made his debut with Deportivo Saprissa a day before his 17th birthday, great expectations were born. After all, it isn’t every day that Costa Rica’s most popular team puts a player so young on the pitch.

Some 10 seasons have passed since then, and while Fonseca still has lots of football ahead of him, he has already gone a long way towards fulfilling those early expectations.

During that time, Fonseca has scored an impressive 210 goals.

Costa Rica’s national side have also been major beneficiaries. The forward has netted a record 39 goals for the Ticos, 10 of which came in the qualifiers for this World Cup.

Perhaps what makes Fonseca most dangerous is his versatility. He packs a powerful shot in both feet and while not very tall at 1.77m (5ft 10in), few would doubt his ability in the air after watching him outjump a big Honduran defender to head home during one World Cup qualifier. Devastating free-kicks are also part of Fonseca’s repertoire, as evidenced by the effort he produced for Costa Rica’s first goal in their historic win over Mexico in Mexico City.

But Fonseca has been more than just a goalscorer. He’s also a winner, having won League titles with Costa Rican sides Saprissa (twice) and Alajuelense, Mexico’s Pachuca and Guatemala’s Comunicaciones (twice). With the national side, he has won two Central American championships.

One of the factors that led to Costa Rica’s qualification was the new-found unselfishness of their players. But for Fonseca it was anything but new. While at Pachuca, he was asked to play as a defensive midfielder and did so without complaint. For the national side, he has played as a creative midfielder, again far from his best position, but a role he is willing to fill for the good of the team.

Fonseca still has unfinished business. At 27, and after several failed attempts to move to Europe, including a short trial with Derby in England, time is running out. Korea/Japan may be his last chance to convince European clubs he’s worth a gamble. Also, not content with being Costa Rica’s all-time leading scorer, the 75-times capped striker is poised to overtake soon-to-retire Hernan Medford and become the first Tico to reach 100.

Costa Rica are one of the least favoured of the 32 finalists, but while their success is not entirely dependent on Fonseca, his form will go a long way towards determining his team’s fate.

Club La Piedad (Mex)
Country Costa Rica
Born June 6, 1974
Previous clubs Saprissa, Pachuca (Mex), Independiente Medellin (Col), Alajuelense, Comunicaciones (Gtm)
International caps 75 (39 goals)