Many footballers are corralled at a young age and molded by the youth systems that discovered them. From this point, they typically progress through the ranks before making it to the senior squad. Some are coined “can’t miss” prospects while others have to work harder to get a look from professional scouts. As for new rossoneri star Carlos Bacca, the obstacles he endured to achieve his current success are rare, unique and inspiring.
Last May, after Sevilla capped off the 3-2 Europa League final victory over Ukrainian outfit Dnipro, the Colombian was recognized for his outstanding performance. Yet, in the Bleacher Report article recapping the match, the thing that resonated most wasn’t his brace, rather the compelling story on how he had gotten to the point in his life where he was playing top-flight football in a major European tournament.
At the young age of 20, while many others his age were playing competitively in Europe and South America, Bacca lived in his hometown of Puerto Colombia where his only footballing came with his local squad. When he wasn’t on the pitch trying to mold a career for himself, the hard-working Bacca could be found selling fish and working as a bus-conductor to support his family. This isn’t the prototypical routine of an aspiring footballer, but “Carlitos” knew that if he wanted to achieve his dreams and support his family, sacrifice was key.
Drive eventually led him to land in Belgium with Jupiler Pro League’s Club Brugge before earning a transfer to Sevilla in 2013 in which he solidified himself as a recognized threat up top for the back-to-back Europa League winners. Despite having much love and appreciation for the opportunities under Unai Emery and Sevilla, Bacca was ready to make the next step in his playing career.
This past summer, after the pursuit of Jackson Martinez had broken down, Carlos Bacca made the biggest move of his career as he signed on with 7-time Champions League winners A.C. Milan for a lucrative fee of €30m. The expectations were high for the Puerto Colombia native with his new club. With limited options in the side, Bacca was heavily relied upon from the jump to be the primary contributor in Siniša Mihajlović’s attack for this season. The ex-La Liga star was asked to go above and beyond in order to ensure the 2015-16 campaign for the San Siro outfit was a successful one, but the 29-year old is no stranger to overcoming obstacles that are placed in front of him. So far, his first season in Italy has been nothing short of excellent. Bacca has already scored 15 goals throughout all competitions, thirteen coming in Serie A which is good for a second place tie with Juventus’ Paulo Dybala.
In recent years, few players have arrived to the club being welcomed with open arms by the supporters. Not only has Bacca thrived under the pressures of playing for a struggling club; he has also become a favorite amongst the fans of the red and black.
Milanisti love the passion he shows playing for their beloved club, and the way he carries himself with class. He takes the pitch each week with pride and plays each match like it’s his last. His humble approach to the beaitiful game is a prime example for young – and apsiring – footballers. Simply put, Bacca is an easy person to support given what you’ve already learned about him.
Here is a brief passage on the Colombian’s story of hard times and sacrifice, courtesy of Serie A TIM on Facebook:
“I was the conductor on a bus of Barranquilla in Puerto Colombia and in the meantime, I was in the Juniors of Barranquilla. Football didn’t offer outlets for me: I played, I played, but the opportunity wasn’t happening. Evidently at my fault, I had the wrong mentality. I was from a poor family, I preferred to earn something and help them and if I was going to train myself, I couldn’t work. Then came the day of my debut: it was 20 minutes and we were still 0-0; Comesaña made me come in. The fans were booing me because they didn’t understand why they would sub me on. No one knew me, but the first two balls that I touched were goals and that day changed my life. I believe in God and I love him with all my heart. He gave me the quality to play soccer and for that, every time I score I raise my arms to the heavens. At the beginning of my career, I had a few incidents that could’ve made me stop playing. I’ve made serious mistakes. God, however, showed me the way. It cost me so much to get here, but it is worth it. I have always struggled to be a good footballer”
Carlos Bacca didn’t have the easiest of paths to a professional footballing career. Nobody handed him a single thing. A red carpet to a rich contract wasn’t sprawled out on the ground in front of him like it has been for so many others. He wasn’t placed in the most ideal situation to excel, however, hard work, determination and a profound faith in God has earned him a dream job with one of the game’s most prestigious clubs in Milan, where he is thriving.