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The Rise and Rise of Sevilla's Carlos Bacca Is Truly Inspirational

Jonathan Wilson@@jonawilsFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2015

WARSAW, POLAND - MAY 27:  Carlos Bacca of Sevilla celebrates victory after the UEFA Europa League Final match between FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Sevilla on May 27, 2015 in Warsaw, Poland.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Man of the Match awards can be curious things. Sevilla's Ever Banega in many ways was a worthy winner of the award after Wednesday’s 3-2 Europa League final win over Dnipro in Warsaw, Poland. He was constantly involved, forever demanding the ball and, according to WhoScored.com, executed four key passes.

And yet it’s hard to argue that he had a more decisive impact than Carlos Bacca, the Colombian centre-forward who scored two goals.

The 28-year-old's story is an inspirational one of self-improvement. 

Sevilla coach Unai Emery described him after the final:

(Bacca) has great skills and qualities and is extraordinarily competitive. He wants more and more. Every time he’s on the pitch he wants to grow, you can call it hunger. He wants the ceiling to be higher and higher, he’s got great potential for this team. He wants to be the best player in the Champions League next season, for example. When he takes a step forward, he wants to take another one.

Bacca’s two goals on Wednesday spoke of a poacher of the highest order.

For the first, which put Sevilla 2-1 up, he timed his run perfectly, beating the offside trap as Jose Antonio Reyes’ pass took a slight deflection on the way through to him. Faced with the vast form of Denys Boyko, the Dnipro goalkeeper, he calmly took the ball past him before finishing with great composure even as his momentum made the angle narrower.

The second, the winner, was more instinctive, a jab of the right foot as Vitolo’s pass came across him.

Michael Sohn/Associated Press
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But Bacca is more than just a finisher. He completed three key passes, more than anybody on the Sevilla team apart from Banega. He won four aerial balls, more than any Sevilla player other than Stephane Mbia and Grzegorz Krychowiak. He only had 26 touches in his 81 minutes on the pitch, but he made them count.

However, it shouldn’t be assumed that just because he was on the ball infrequently he is somehow lazy. It's quite the opposite. This was a masterclass in working the front line, looking for space, dragging defenders out of position. It was a performance of great selflessness.

That’s become standard from a player who is well aware of what football has given him. When he was 20, Bacca was still living in his hometown of Puerto Colombia on the Caribbean coast. He played football for the local team and, to make ends meet, sold fish and worked as a bus conductor on the half-hour journey to Barranquilla.

He only turned professional when he was 22, but he struggled with the discipline of a footballer’s life and looked as though he may fade away when he found God. He is so committed to his faith and to football that he very rarely goes out. Everything is focused on making the best of the gifts, as he sees it, given to him by God. He moved to Europe with Club Brugge in 2011 and two seasons later to Sevilla.

WARSAW, POLAND - MAY 27:  Carlos Bacca of Sevilla celebrates victory after the UEFA Europa League Final match between FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Sevilla on May 27, 2015 in Warsaw, Poland.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Few expected him to be first choice, especially when Sevilla signed Kevin Gameiro from Paris Saint-Germain. But his sheer desire has made him not only a regular, but one of Sevilla’s most important players. He averages roughly a goal every other game, but he offers much more than that, not merely on the pitch but off it too: His example is an inspiration to others.

Dnipro’s defensive record in the Europa League had been good until the final. They’d let in only five goals in eight games in the knockout stage. There were signs they might be able to frustrate Sevilla as well, sitting deep and closing the space, absorbing pressure. But Bacca is a player who will gobble a half-chance, the sort of man who turns possession into goals.

All quotes obtained first-hand unless otherwise specified.

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