By Claudio Cerda
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's Humberto Suazo goes to South Africa having beaten players such as Brazil's Luis Fabiano and Uruguay's Diego Forlan to finish as the top scorer in the South American World Cup qualifying campaign.
With 10 goals to his name, Suazo was the main reason that Chile qualified for the finals. He was the only Chilean outfield player to play in all 18 qualifying matches, and Chile's progress in South Africa is likely to depend largely on how he performs.
In the end, all was well. El Chupete missed the rest of the Spanish league season but will be fit for the World Cup.
Suazo started the qualifying campaign playing wide on the right, alongside Chilean idol Marcelo Salas. When Salas retired from international football in 2008, Suazo moved into the classic center-forward position and has made it his own.
Rather like Brazil's Ronaldo, the 29-year-old is often accused of being overweight, but his heavy build belies his agility.
"Wherever I go they always crucify me and call me fat, but I'm used to it," he said after Spanish media questioned his fitness. Since then, he has scored some crucial goals for Zaragoza, helping them to avoid relegation.
For a player of his undeniable talent, Suazo took a long time to establish himself in top-flight football, playing several seasons for his local side Torino de San Antonio.
When his father died and San Antonio were relegated to the Chilean third division, he even considered quitting the game.
"The most difficult thing for me as a footballer was to get over the death of my father, who'd started me out in the sport," he said. "When he died, I didn't want to play any more."
But play he did, and he soon established himself with first division side Audax Italiano, where he scored 40 goals in two seasons before moving to Chile's biggest club, Colo Colo, in 2006.
Only two players have scored four goals for Chile at the World Cup -- Salas in 1998 and Leonel Sanchez in 1962. Having topped the scoring tables in the qualifiers, Suazo will be looking to improve on that record.
(Writing by Gideon Long; Editing by Rex Gowar/Clare Fallon)