Last month’s Europa League final between Ukraine’s Dnipro and Spain’s Sevilla actually produced a Colombian winner with a remarkable story. Just under nine years ago, Carlos Bacca was on the books of Colombia’s Junior FC, but failed to make a senior appearance in his first three years at the club. Instead, the striker was loaned to clubs from Colombia’s and Venezuela’s lower leagues respectively. At the time, Bacca was working as a bus driver’s assistant due to his family’s financial constraints and football seemed to be one the potential silver linings in a life dominated by poverty.
During his time in the lower divisions of South America, Carlos Bacca proved his abilities as a goal scorer and consistently finished in the double-digits. During his second loan spell at Colombian second tier club Barranquilla, Bacca concluded the season as the league’s top scorer. This was reason enough for his parent-club Junior FC to give him a genuine opportunity in the first team. 22 at the time, the striker earned himself a starting spot very quickly and became the Copa Colombia’s top scorer with eleven goals from 12 games. Each season, Carlos Bacca improved his record and provided 18 league goals in 2010, followed by 20 in 2011.
The striker’s exploits in Colombia’s top flight were reason enough for the first European club to come calling and in 2011, Belgian giants Club Brugge were happy to part with €1.5 million for his services. Having joined the club in the January transfer window, Bacca failed to make an impression in his first six months in Belgium and was limited to three goals in ten league appearances. However, things changed quickly in the following season, when the Colombian managed to nail a regular place in the starting line-up. Carlos Bacca finished the 2012/13 season with 25 goals in 35 league appearances. The former fish salesman and bus conductor had truly arrived in the world of football, after only 5 years in the profession.
Bacca’s impressive run at Brugge was enough to convince Spanish club Sevila to send €7 million to Belgium, in order to secure the striker. The club had also just signed French striker Kevin Gameiro for €10 million from PSG and it was hard to see as to how Bacca would fit in and whether he would manage to become a first-choice striker. It almost felt as though this was a punt on Sevilla’s part. Nevertheless, the Colombian had different plans and netted a brace of goals in Sevilla’s 4-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano in September 2013.
Since then, it has been a fairytale story between Sevilla and Carlos Bacca. The once troublesome youngster is now one of the team’s most hard-working players and provides not only goals, but is also happy to assist his colleagues with their goal-scoring efforts. His man-of-the-match display during last month’s Europa League was only a brief insight into Carlos Bacca’s abilities. The marriage between Sevilla and the Colombian is just an incredible case of perfect fit. Sevilla look like a great team and one of the biggest contributors is Bacca and with Unai Emery remaining at the helm, there is surely more to come from this team and this striker. We are intrigued.