Radamel Falcao

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This article is about the Colombian footballer. For the Brazilian footballer, see Falcão. For other people called Falcao, see Falcao.
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is García and the second or maternal family name is Zárate.
Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao 6333.jpg
Falcao with Porto in 2011
Personal information
Full name Radamel Falcao García Zárate[1]
Date of birth (1986-02-10) 10 February 1986 (age 28)
Place of birth Santa Marta, Colombia
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in) [2]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Manchester United
(on loan from AS Monaco)
Number 9
Youth career
1999–2002 Lanceros Boyacá
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2001 Lanceros Boyacá 8 (1)
2001–2009 River Plate 90 (34)
2009–2011 Porto 51 (41)
2011–2013 Atlético Madrid 68 (52)
2013– AS Monaco 20 (11)
2014– Manchester United (loan) 10 (2)
National team
2005–2007 Colombia U20 3 (2)
2007– Colombia 54 (21)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:40, 20 December 2014 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 31 October 2014

Radamel Falcao García Zárate (Spanish pronunciation: [raðaˈmel falˈkao]; 10 February 1986), also known as Radamel Falcao, Falcao García[3][4][5] or simply as Falcao, is a Colombian footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United on loan from AS Monaco, and the Colombia national football team. He is sometimes nicknamed El Tigre (Spanish for The Tiger) and King of the Europa League.[6][7][8][9][10]

Falcao is commonly cited as one of the best strikers in world football today.[11][12][13][14][15] Falcao surpassed Jürgen Klinsmann's record of 15 goals (17) in a single annual club football European competition UEFA Champions League/UEFA Europa League campaign in 2011. He also played a key role in guiding F.C. Porto to a second Europa League title, as well as finishing undefeated in the 2010–11 Primeira Liga season. In July 2011, Falcao received the Portuguese Golden Ball award, becoming the first Colombian to do so.[16] He came fifth in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or and was named in the FIFA XI for 2012.

In his first three seasons in European football, Falcao scored over 100 goals.[17] Falcao had played a key role in Atlético Madrid's 12 match winning streak in a single Europa League season, making it the first team to do so.[18] He also became the top goal scorer in both tournaments.[19] Falcao won his first UEFA Super Cup in 2012, becoming the first player in history to score a hat trick in the contest since its reform in 1998.[20] On 9 December 2012, Falcao scored five goals in one game in a 6–0 home victory against Deportivo de La Coruña.[21][22] In the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, Falcao played a crucial part in Atlético Madrid's victory over Real Madrid, ending the 14-year unbeaten streak which Real Madrid had held in matches against Atlético prior to the final.

Falcao made his full international debut for Colombia in 2007 and has since earned over 50 caps and scored 21 goals for the team, making him their second top scorer of all time, behind Arnoldo Iguarán. He represented the country at the 2011 Copa América, but missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup through an ACL injury.[23]

Club career

Lanceros

Falcao made his debut for Lanceros Boyacá in the Colombian Categoría Primera B (second tier) on 28 August 1999 at the age of 13 years and 199 days, thus becoming the youngest debutant at that level of Colombian professional football.[24] In 2000, Lanceros' coach, Hernán Pacheco, began to consider the 14-year-old more seriously; Falcao played seven matches that year.[25] On 25 July, at the Estadio Olímpico del Sol at Sogamoso, he scored his first and only goal for the club, to seal a 2–0 win against Club El Cóndor that took Lanceros off the bottom of the table.[26] In his two years with the club, he played eight matches and scored once.[25]

River Plate

After training with Millonarios, who did not take up their option to purchase the player,[27] Falcao was sold to River Plate of Argentina in February 2001 for a $500,000 fee.[25][28] He began his River career in the youth team, playing in the eighth division of Argentine football.[28] River coach Leonardo Astrada gave Falcao his professional debut in the 2005 Torneo Clausura in a game that the club lost 2–1 to Gimnasia.[29]

Falcao became a regular in the first team during the 2005 Torneo Apertura. He scored twice in a match for the first time in Argentina, on 2 October in a game against Independiente that finished as a 3–1 win for River.[30] He repeated the feat twice more during the Apertura: against Lanús, his brace contributed to a 4–1 home win,[31] and against San Lorenzo, River won 5–1.[32] This brought his total for the competition to seven from as many games[33] under the management of Reinaldo Merlo, who gave Falcao the trust he needed to establish himself in the team.

In the match against San Lorenzo in November, Falcao injured the ligaments of his right knee and missed the remainder of the Apertura; then, during pre-season training in January 2006, he sustained more serious damage to the same knee, which required surgery and was expected to keep him out for at least six months.[34][35] He returned to the field in September, soon after the start of the 2006 Torneo Apertura, in which he made 12 appearances, mainly as a substitute; he scored just once, to seal a 2–0 win against Rosario Central that took River clear at the top of the table.[33][36] A few days earlier he made his debut in CONMEBOL competition, in the last eight of the 2006 Copa Sudamericana against Atlético Paranaense of Brazil. He was replaced at half-time, and the match finished 2–2, so River were eliminated on aggregate, having lost the home leg 1–0.[37]

He was sent off in his only outing in the 2007 Copa Libertadores, against Colo-Colo in February 2007.[33] Domestically, he made little impression on the 2007 Torneo Clausura. He scored in only one of the eight games he played: River's first two goals as they beat Racing Club 4–2 away from home.[33][38] Falcao scored his first professional hat-trick on 28 September 2007, as River made a historic comeback against Botafogo to progress in the 2007 Sudamericana.[33] The following week, he scored his first goal in a Superclásico, the first of River's goals as they beat Boca Juniors 2–0.[39]

River were reported to have rejected a $15 million offer from Milan for Falcao in early 2008, as well as bids from clubs including Aston Villa and Fluminense. He was a key player as Diego Simeone led River to the 2008 Torneo Clausura championship, his first domestic title, and his performances meant he was linked with moves to a variety of clubs.[40] Nevertheless, he remained with River as they suffered the worst campaign in their history, finishing bottom of the 2008 Torneo Apertura.[41]

In 2009, River Plate had a difficult start: they were eliminated in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores 2009 and won few games at the beginning of the 2009 Torneo Clausura. Falcao retained his eye for goal, and was instrumental in Nestor Gorosito's plans, having matured as a striker over the previous two years, and finished as top scorer with 43 goals.[42]

Porto

2009–10 season

Falcao taking on Tanju Kayhan of Rapid Vienna

Falcao moved to Europe when he joined the Portuguese giants F.C. Porto on 15 July 2009 for a fee of €3.93 million for 60% economic rights[43] after Porto sold striker Lisandro López to Olympique Lyonnais.[44] In the transaction, Porto also sold Mario Bolatti for €1.5 million to a third party owner, Natland Financier B.V., in exchange for 35% economic rights of Falcao.[45] Curiously, Falcao was about to sign for Porto rivals Benfica days before, but the reluctance of its leaders to pay an additional €700,000 requested by Falcao dictated the end of negotiations; days later, Falcao joined Porto.[46] He made his debut against Paços de Ferreira on the opening day of the season and scored an important goal to earn the team a draw.[47] He went on to score three goals in as many games, making him one of the few to score four goals in the first four matchdays in the Portuguese league.

On 15 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 1–0 away defeat against Chelsea.[48] Falcao would later score a brilliant header to defeat rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal on the sixth matchday, giving his team a 1–0 home victory.[49] Four days later, on 30 September, he scored his first Champions League goal in a group stage win over Atlético Madrid.[50] On 2 February 2010, Falcao scored twice in a Portuguese Cup quarter-finals victory against rivals Sporting CP.[51] In the same month, he scored the victory goal against Arsenal in a UEFA Champions League round of 16 match,[52] being his fourth goal in the tournament. On 3 April, Falcao scored a brace against Marítimo, and turned into the highest goalscorer of the Portuguese League with 20 goals,[53] but he would finish the season as the second-highest league scorer with 25 goals, behind only Benfica's Óscar Cardozo, who had 26. He scored another goal in his last game of the season, the Portuguese Cup final, where Porto won 2–1 against Grupo Desportivo Chaves.[54] He wrapped up the campaign with a career-high 34 goals in all competitions.[42]

2010–11 season

Falcao finishing his hat-trick against Rapid Vienna in December 2010

Falcao made an impressive start to the 2010–11 season, scoring a goal in the 2010 Portuguese SuperCup 2–0 victory over Benfica.[55] He scored his first two league goals on the second matchday of the season against Beira-Mar on 22 August 2010.[56] On 7 November, he scored twice (one of them an impressive backheel goal) in a 5–0 victory against the defending champions Benfica,[57] and later, on 2 December, Falcao scored his first hat-trick for Porto against Rapid Wien during a UEFA Europa League clash, becoming the top goal scorer of the competition with 17 goals. On 7 April 2011, Falcao scored another hat-trick in the quarter-final of the Europa League against Russian side Spartak Moscow, which was won by the Portuguese team by a score of 5–1, to bring his goal tally in the tournament to 10.

I'd like to play with him. Falcao is a great player and is at a very high level. He has won everything in a season in which he scored many goals. He is, today, the great reference of Colombian football.

Lionel Messi, June 2011.[42]

In the 2010–11 season, Porto won the league title in round 25 of the league against rivals and defending champions Benfica at the Estádio da Luz. He played a key role in that match, winning his team a penalty when the match was tied at 1–1; the penalty was scored by teammate Hulk. In the match against Spartak Moscow in the Europa League, Falcao scored a hat-trick and provided an assist in a 5–1 win. In the second leg, he scored another goal and provided another assist that took Porto to the tournament's semi-final stage. He further added to his position as top scorer in the competition by scoring four goals in the semi-final first leg against Villarreal CF, a game which finished 5–1 in favour of Porto.

In the UEFA Europa League final against domestic rivals Braga, Falcao scored the only goal of the game with a header after a cross from Fredy Guarín, giving the title to Porto.[58][59] He set a new goalscoring record of 17 goals in 14 games during the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League, surpassing Jürgen Klinsmann's previous record of 15 goals.[60]

In July 2011, he extended his contract with an added €45 million buy-out clause.[61] Porto paid a commission of €6,585,150 to extend the contract.[62]

Atlético Madrid

Falcao with Atlético Madrid in 2011

2011–12 season

On 18 August 2011, Porto announced they had agreed a fee with Atlético Madrid for the transfer of Falcao.[63] The transfer fee was €40 million with the fee potentially rising by €10 million based on performance-based clauses, making him the most expensive player in the club's history.[64] Falcao made his Atlético debut on 10 September away to Valencia CF, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–0 defeat.[65][66] On 3 November, Falcao netted a goal in Atlético's 4–0 triumph over Udinese — the goal meant that Falcao had scored 19 goals in his last 18 Europa League games.[67]

Falcao's second hat-trick in La Liga came on 21 January 2012, when he led his team to a 4–0 victory against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta Stadium. On 16 February, Falcao scored twice and assisted a goal in an away game against Lazio to progress to the Round of 16 in the Europa League.[68] In the second leg of Atletico's Round of 16 clash against Turkish giants Beşiktaş, Falcao scored one goal and provided another in a 3–0 victory, advancing 6–1 on aggregate.[69] On 21 March, Falcao netted a second half double to propel his side to a 2–1 victory over Athletic Bilbao and keep Atletico in the race for European places.[70] Falcao scored another goal sealing a 3–0 victory over Getafe CF. In both legs of the Europa League quarter-final tie versus Hannover 96, Falcao managed to score a goal for each leg, helping Atlético seal a 4–2 aggregate victory and increasing his goal tally to eight in the competition.[71][72]

Falcao celebrates winning the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League with Atlético Madrid in Madrid. Falcao won both the 2011–12 season and the previous seasonal editions of the Europa League. He also became the top goal scorer on both occasions.

Falcao played his first Madrid Derby against Real Madrid on 11 April 2012. He had missed the first match at the Santiago Bernabéu due to injury, and scored Atletico's only goal as his side fell 4–1 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. He scored his 22nd goal of the season against Rayo Vallecano in a crucial 1–0 victory for Atlético Madrid. For the first leg of the 2011–12 Europa league semifinals against Valencia CF, Falcao scored a double in a 4–2 victory while making Atlético the first team to win 10 consecutive matches in a single Europa League season.[73] Falcao added to his Europa League tally in the final against fellow La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, netting Atlético's opening two goals in a 3–0 triumph at the Arena Națională in Bucharest on 9 May 2012.[74] In doing so, Falcao not only became the top goal scorer in a Europa league season again but became the first player in history to win two consecutive Europa League titles with two different teams.[19][75] In all competitions, Falcao had scored a record of 36 goals for Atlético Madrid, the highest amount by any player in a first season playing for the club.

2012–13 season

Falcao scored two hat-tricks at the start of the 2012–13 season; first in the La Liga game against 2012 Europa League finalists Athletic Bilbao,[76] and the second in the defeat of Chelsea, winning the 2012 UEFA Super Cup by a score of 4–1, on 31 August 2012.[77] At the same time, Falcao became the first player in history to score a hat trick in a UEFA Super Cup final in its current format; the original format was two legged before turning into a single legged final format in 1998. On 16 September, Falcao scored what turned out to be the decisive goal from the penalty spot in a 4–3 win over Rayo Vallecano, and did the same a week later against Real Valladolid, before going off at half-time in order to avoid a possible groin injury.[78] Falcao scored a double in a 4–2 away victory over Real Betis, converting a cross for the first and then converting a penalty, putting him to the top of the goal scoring charts in La Liga with seven goals.[79]

Falcao scored a wonderful header against Málaga CF and forced Málaga defender Weligton to score an own goal, pushing Atlético to victory in the final minute. He scored once again in the away fixture to Real Sociedad after the international break, this time with a rare free-kick — his first professional free kick-goal — in the 90th minute, winning the match 1–0.[80] In a game against Sevilla FC, Falcao scored a penalty and assisted another goal in a 4–0 victory; the strike marked his 50th goal for Atletico Madrid.[81] In the match against Deportivo de La Coruña on 9 December, Falcao scored an astonishing five goals, becoming the first player in La Liga in over a decade to net five goals in a game.[82][83] For his last goal of the 2012 calendar year, Falcao scored the opening goal against Spanish giants FC Barcelona in a 4–1 loss at the Camp Nou.

Falcao missed the first La Liga match of 2013 due to an injury but returned in the second match against Real Zaragoza, where he scored a penalty. It was noted that Falcao struggled to maintain form during the match. In the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Real Betis, Falcao scored a header in a 2–0 victory.[84] Falcao returned on 3 February after being injured for three weeks where he failed to make a comeback on his return against Real Betis in a 1–0 victory. In a 2–1 loss against Rayo Vallecano, Falcao scored in the 94th minute on the day of his birthday. Falcao finally played his first match of the 2012–13 Europa League in a 2–0 lost against Rubin Kazan. Falcao scored against Real Valladolid in a 3–0 victory. In the second leg against Kazan of the Europa league, Falcao scored a late goal but it was not enough to save Atletico from being knocked out on a 2–1 aggregate. Falcao scored a penalty in a 1–0 victory against Espanyol, Altetico was down to 10 men at this time.

In the Copa de Rey Semi-finals, Falcao scored against Sevilla FC in a 2–2 draw. Although Atletico advanced to the finals on a 4–3 aggregate as well as scoring twice before Sevilla. In the league match against Valencia CF, Valencia had scored a goal in the 4th minute stunning the home fans. However, Falcao responded with a goal of his own less than a minute later. The game however only ended 1–1. Falcao scored a double against Granada CF in a comfortable 5–0 victory. The second goal marked Falcao's 200th career goal (counting both club and nation).[85] In an away match against Sevilla, Falcao scored the only goal in a 0–1 victory. In the Madrid Derby against Real Madrid, Falcao scored Atletico's only goal once more in a 1–2 home lost.[86] Falcao scored the last goal for Atletico in a 3–1 away victory over Celta de Vigo. The win also assured Atletico Madrid to appear in the UEFA Champions League for next season for the first time in four years.[87] In Falcao's last match against FC Barcelona for the 2012–13 season, Falcao scored yet another goal in another 2–1 home lost. This made Falcao one of the few players to consecutive score against them in three out of four La Liga appearances between the current and last season.

"It's an unbelievable feeling. Now we have to enjoy it. This win feels awesome. We're happy with the effort we put in and that we can celebrate this win like the people wanted."

Falcao, on winning the Copa del Rey with Atletico Madrid and helping Atletico defeat Real Madrid for the first time in 14 years.[88]

In the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, Atletico Madrid were given one final chance of the season to beat their arch-rivals Real Madrid for the first time in 14 years. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the game with a header in the 14th minute. In the 35th minute, Falcao had a chance to run forward while surrounded by Real players but did something different: after catching the ball, he pulled it backwards where two Real Madrid players bumped into one another, leaving just three surrounding him. He cut to the right side and delivered a pass to Diego Costa who shot low equalizing moments later. In extra time, Miranda scored the winning goal with a header from a corner in the 98th minute. Despite Falcao not scoring a single goal, he took the home team by surprise in committing to the role of playmaker rather than a striker role.[citation needed] Thus, he abandoned the typical 'pure striker' role.[citation needed] This allowed Atletico to win the cup and defeat their arch rivals for the first time in 14 years.[89][90] This is also Falcao's first domestic title with Atletico.

Monaco

It makes me laugh at times when I get asked why I didn't stay at a particular club or why I haven't moved to another side, as if the player has a choice in the matter. I'd say back to journalists: why don't you work at CNN or ESPN? It's the same in football; on very few occasions can the player make the decision to move from one club or to another. There have been occasions when I've not been able to live in the way I want, many times. I want to go to a particular club and in finally I end up at another.

Falcao in 2014 speaking on his move from Atletico Madrid to Monaco.[42]

On 31 May 2013, Atlético Madrid general manager Miguel Ángel Gil Marín announced that the club will not stand in the way if Falcao decides to leave in the upcoming summer transfer window. On 31 May 2013, AS Monaco FC announced that they had reached an agreement with Atlético Madrid for a transfer. Falcao signed a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee,[91][92] believed to be around €60 million, with his net annual salary at AS Monaco being reported to be around €18.2 million.[91][93][94][95] Despite the Colombian showing optimism about his Monaco future, Falcao gave an emotional farewell to Atlético during a press interview,[96] expressing his enjoyment with the club and considering it to be "the best time of his career".[97] It is commonly believed that his third-party ownership had a stronger influence on his decision.[98] On an interesting note, Falcao went on to say that part of his reason for choosing Monaco was to follow the footsteps of his idol, Thierry Henry.[99][100] Monaco sporting director Vadim Vasilyev said that the club hoped to build a team around Falcao.[101]

2013–14 season

Falcao made his Ligue 1 debut in the first match against Girondins de Bordeaux, where he managed to score in the 88th minute, sealing a 2–0 victory. Against Montpellier HSC, Falcao opened the scoring board with a penalty kick. Monaco went on to win the game 4–1.[102] In a match against Marseille, Falcao scored the equalizer in a 2–1 victory.[103] In a match against FC Lorient, Falcao got an early penalty kick, scoring the winning goal in a 1–0 victory while still having issues to adapt to the new team of Monaco. Falcao managed to equalize with a diving header in a tough away match against French-giants and current league champions Paris Saint-Germain. The game would later end 1–1 and keep Monaco on top of the league table. Days later, Falcao scored a double against Bastia in a 3–0 victory. This also brought his goal tally to seven and making him top goal scorer in the Ligue 1.[104]

Falcao ended his four-game goal drought for Monaco in a 2–1 win over Olympique Lyon, scoring with an impressive chip.[105] In a match against Evian Thonon Gaillard, Falcao scored the equalizer in a 1–1 draw.[106] On 27 November, it was reported that Falcao failed to fully recover from a thigh injury prior to his last match for the club, and he was forced to miss the next four league matches.[107][108][109] Falcao made his return after being brought on within the second half against Valenciennes, where he missed a penalty kick and Monaco lost 2–1.[110]

Falcao started 2014 off by making his Coupe de France debut in a match against Vannes OC, where he both assisted and scored a goal in a 3–2 victory.[111] Falcao's second goal of the month came in the Coupe de France once more, where he scored a goal before being substituted due to an injury in the first half against Monts d'Or Azergues Foot.[112]

On 23 January, it was confirmed that Falcao suffered a knee injury and would miss the 2014 FIFA World Cup, while effectively ending his 2013–14 season entirely.[113] Falcao went on to say that he was confident in a speedy recovery.[114] Falcao also went on to say that he wanted to play in the match himself, and that Claudio Ranieri did not force him to.[115]

2014–15 season

Falcao's full recovery was confirmed in mid July, where he would play regularly in pre-season matches for Monaco after 6 months sidelined.[116] He returned on the field at the Emirates Cup coming on as a substitute for Dimitar Berbatov in the 72nd minute as Monaco drew 2–2 against Valencia.[117] The next day he played the first hour of the match against Arsenal, and scored the only goal of the game in the 36th minute.[118]

On 10 August, in his first competitive match since his injury, Falcao came on for Lucas Ocampos after 59 minutes and scored a penalty, yet Monaco lost 2–1 at home to Lorient.[119] Two weeks later, he started away to Nantes and scored the only goal of the game, heading in Layvin Kurzawa's cross before half time for the club's first points of the season.[120] Amidst rumours of a transfer, Falcao was not included in Monaco's next match against Lille, and watched from the stands next to owner Vadim Vasilyev.[121]

Manchester United

On 1 September 2014, Manchester United agreed to sign Falcao on loan for £6 million subject to a medical examination with an option to sign permanently for £43.5 million (€55 million) at the end.[122] Manchester City had previously opted out of signing him due to squad size.[122] United confirmed the transfer in the early hours of 2 September.[123]

Despite joining temporarily under a loan contract, Falcao said he would fight to stay at United for many years and become a legend at the club.[124][125]

He made his debut at Old Trafford on 14 September, playing the final 23 minutes of a 4–0 win over Queens Park Rangers in place of Juan Mata, as United won for the first time in the season.[126] His debut was marked by rapturous applause from the club's supporters as they continuously chanted his name both while he was warming up and on the pitch.[127] On 5 October, he scored his first goal for United, the winner in a 2–1 home victory against Everton.[128]

International career

Early years 2005–2010

Falcao's national career was "late" in terms of chances in playing for the national team due to injuries around important events. He represented the under-17 national team and the under-20. Falcao was part of the team that won the 2005 edition of the South American Youth Champion. Eventually, his first major international tournament was of the 2005 U-20 World Cup.

In the senior national team, Falcao's first goal came against Montenegro during the Kirin Cup held in Japan during 2007 at only 21 years of age, winning the match for Colombia 1–0. His second occurred later that year in a friendly against Peru. Falcao didn't score his third goal till 2008 against Nigeria in a 1–0 win.

Falcao's first World Cup qualifying goal occurred in 2009, against Peru. His last goal for 2009 was against Venezuela in a friendly that ended 2–1 for Venezuela.

Falcao didn't score another goal for Colombia until the following year in 2011 during a friendly against Ecuador. Falcao scored against Ecuador again a few months later in another friendly where he scored the winning goal on both occasions.

2011 Copa América

Falcao's first Copa América — he missed the 2007 edition due to injuries — was upon him. Failing to score against Costa Rica and the host nation Argentina, Falcao stepped up scoring a double against Bolivia, causing Colombia to top their group, surprising the host country Argentina, who were favorites to win the group.

In the next round, Falcao made a mistake when taking a penalty kick against Peru. Shooting wide, Falcao dashed Colombia's hopes of reaching the semi-finals, as Peru were able to score two goals in extra time.

2014 World Cup qualifiers

Falcao playing in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on 10 September 2013.

Falcao's first match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers started off with a goal against Bolivia in the last minute of added time, giving Colombia the win.

Under new management of the national team led by Argentine José Pekerman, Falcao scored a goal against Mexico in a friendly that ended 2–0.

Falcao's talents were shown against Uruguay, scoring in the second minute to help Colombia win 4–0. In the same match, he assisted Juan Zúñiga, sealing the 4–0 victory in the final minutes of stoppage time. Falcao scored again days later as well as providing an assist against Chile to help give Colombia a 3–1 away win which put them second in the table, one point behind Argentina. On 12 October 2012, Falcao scored both goals in a 2–0 victory over Paraguay.

In Falcao's first game for 2013, he played in the qualifying match against Bolivia. Falcao scored in the final minutes of the game scoring the fourth goal.[129] Falcao scored a penalty against Peru in the 13th minute where Colombia won 2–0.[130][131]

On 11 October 2013, in the penultimate World Cup qualifying match against Chile, Falcao scored twice from penalty kicks to tie 3–3 after trailing 0–3. This result ensured Colombia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.[132][133]

Falcao ended the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign as Colombia's top scorer with nine goals.[134]

2014 World Cup and friendlies

"When they told me at first that I had a serious injury and there was only a small chance of participating (in Brazil), I didn’t care whether it was 10, 20 or 50 percent; I was counting on THAT chance. This is my hope and with this dream, I will work every day. A lot has to do with my emotional state. This is something that I can manage each day."

Falcao on his injury and a possible chance to make it to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[135]

Falcao scored the first goal in a 2–0 away result friendly against Belgium.

On 23 January 2014, due to a knee injury, it was announced that Falcao would likely miss the World Cup. However, Falcao expressed his optimism, believing that it's possible for him to make a speedy recovery and make it in time for the world cup.[113][114] After surgery, it was confirmed that he had a 50/50 chance of making it to the World Cup in time, all in his favor if he does not rush his recovery.[136][137]

Falcao received tremendous support world wide in social media for a speedy recovery; a social media movement entitled 'Fuerza Tigre' (meaning 'stay strong Tiger' in Spanish) rapidly grew popularity. Former teams that Falcao played for such as River Plate, F.C. Porto, Atletico Madrid, and current team AS Monaco, have all worn shirts and showcased banners reading 'Fuerza Tigre' in the following respective game for each team. This is following the global support that started in Colombia for a speedy recovery, as all domestic clubs in Colombia followed the trend (wearing 'Fuerza Tigre' shirts as well) during warm-ups during the 2014 Superliga Colombiana and opening of the 2014 Liga Postobon.[138]

On 5 February, Falcao was included in José Pékerman's 30 squad list (later to be narrowed to 23 in May) for the World Cup.[139] In March 2014, it was then reported that Falcao was expected to recover by May.[140] On 16 May, however, Falcao admitted that it would be 'impossible' for him to reach the World Cup at 100%, but he would still try take part.[141] On the same day, he began to train again with his Monaco teammates.[142] On 25 May, Falcao arrived in Argentina to train with the rest of the squad.[143]

Falcao however made the decision not to join the squad as he didn't feel right taking up a position if not at full health.[144][145]

Falcao would score his first goal in 11 months after starting for the first time since his injury against El Salvador. It was his first ever header-goal for his country while influencing the other 2 goals in a 3–0 victory.[146]

Playing style and praise

Colombian fans during the 2014 World Cup celebrating with Falcao's face

Falcao has been described as one of the most "natural in form, goal scorers" in the world.[147][148][149] His abilities to adapt to most positions and scoring goals with various parts of his body has resulted in goals. Described as a 'poacher', Falcao is often labeled as a 'pure striker' often playing as a traditional 'number 9', capitalizing on less amount of chances that are given to him than the typical goal scorer. His footing and curves are highly noticeable through his games regardless of distance and/or positions. Falcao is well known for having a strong weak foot (left) that is on equals with his right foot (preference) allowing him to be flexible with goal scoring. Falcao controls a well balance pace keeping his stamina in check and allowing him to often out run other players in the most critical moments in obtaining the ball. The strength of his shots is often well controlled, in terms of distance and angles, as shown throughout his career.[149][150][151] While Falcao is only of average height, his header technique has given him an edge in aerial battles for balls. His most impressive goals tend to be headers, with the majority of his goals coming in the air.[152]

Falcao's talents have been recognized by football players former and current, perhaps most notably by former FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, who described him as "sensational" and as one of the most talented in the world.[153][154][155] Fabio Capello has considered him to be on the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.[12][13][14][15][156][157][158]

Personal life

Falcao's signature

Falcao is a second generation footballer, with his father Radamel García having played professionally as a defender in Colombia and Venezuela, moving to the latter country when Falcao was five. At first, he was picked on in Venezuela for not being good at the country's most popular sport, baseball.[159]

His name derives from the 1980s Brazil, Internacional and Roma legend Paulo Roberto Falcão, as a tribute from his father Radamel García. Despite being named Radamel, he prefers to use his middle name in interviews. Falcao is married to Argentinean singer Lorelei Taron. In early 2013, it was revealed that Falcao was expecting his first child with her.[160][161] Dominique García Taron was born on 13 August 2013, at the Princess Grace Hospital in La Colle, Monaco.[162][163] Falcao is a Christian.[164]

He is partially of English descent; George King, one of his great-grandfathers, emigrated from the North Yorkshire village of Burn near Selby in 1932 to work as an accountant for the United Fruit Company in Colombia. Owing to this ancestry, Falcao's father attempted to make it easier for his son to play in Europe by obtaining a British passport for him, however this was rejected.[159]

Career statistics

Club

As of 27 December 2014[165][166]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Other1 Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
River Plate
2005–06 11 7 0 0 11 7
2006–07 20 3 0 0 20 3
2007–08 27 11 12 8 39 19
2008–09 32 13 3 3 35 16
Total 90 34 15 11 105 45
Porto 2009–10 28 25 5 5 2 0 8 4 0 0 43 34
2010–11 22 16 3 3 0 0 16 18 1 1 42 38
2011–12 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0
Total 51 41 8 8 2 0 24 22 2 1 87 72
Atlético Madrid 2011–12 34 24 1 0 15 12 50 36
2012–13 34 28 4 2 2 1 1 3 41 34
Total 68 52 5 2 17 13 1 3 91 70
Monaco 2013–14 17 9 2 2 0 0 19 11
2014–15 3 2 0 0 0 0 3 2
Total 20 11 2 2 0 0 22 13
Manchester United 2014–15 10 2 0 0 0 0 10 2
Total 10 2 0 0 0 0 10 2
Career Total 238 140 14 11 3 1 56 46 3 4 314 202

1Includes other competitive competitions, including Portuguese SuperCup and UEFA Super Cup.

International

As of 14 October 2014
Colombia senior team
Year Apps Goal
2007 8 2
2008 5 1
2009 9 2
2010 4 1
2011 9 4
2012 7 5
2013 9 5
2014 3 1
Total 54 21

[167]

International goals

Scores and results lists Colombia's goal tally first.[168]
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 3 June 2007 Matsumoto Stadium, Matsumoto, Japan  Montenegro 1–0 1–0 2007 Kirin Cup
2 8 September 2007 Estadio Monumental, Lima, Peru  Peru 1–1 2–2 Friendly
3 19 November 2008 Estadio Deportivo Cali, Cali, Colombia  Nigeria 1–0 1–0
4 10 June 2009 Estadio Atanasio Girardot, Medellín, Colombia  Peru 1–0 1–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
5 12 August 2009 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, United States  Venezuela 1–1 1–2 Friendly
6 8 October 2010 Red Bull Arena, Harrison, United States  Ecuador 1–0 1–0
7 26 March 2011 Vicente Calderón Stadium, Madrid, Spain  Ecuador 2–0 2–0
8 10 July 2011 Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao López, Santa Fe, Argentina  Bolivia 1–0 2–0 2011 Copa América
9 2–0
10 11 October 2011 Estadio Hernando Siles, La Paz, Bolivia  Bolivia 2–1 2–1 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
11 29 February 2012 Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, United States  Mexico 1–0 2–0 Friendly
12 7 September 2012 Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez, Barranquilla, Colombia  Uruguay 1–0 4–0 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
13 11 September 2012 Estadio Monumental David Arellano, Santiago de Chile, Chile  Chile 2–1 3–1
14 12 October 2012 Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez, Barranquilla, Colombia  Paraguay 1–0 2–0
15 2–0
16 22 March 2013  Bolivia 4–0 5–0
17 12 June 2013  Peru 1–0 2–0
18 11 October 2013  Chile 2–3 3–3
19 3–3
20 14 November 2013 King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium  Belgium 1–0 2–0 Friendly
21 10 October 2014 Red Bull Arena, Harrison, United States  El Salvador 1–0 3–0

Honours

Club

River Plate
Porto
Atlético Madrid

National team

Colombia U-20

Individual

Notable achievements

1 Record of 17 goals in a European competition. 2 Two Europa league titles continuously in both the 2010–11 season (F.C. Porto) and the 2011–12 season (Atletico Madrid).

Decorations

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External links