There is a tragic tale behind Borussia Dortmund forward Paco Alcacer's rise to stardom - © This content is subject to copyright.
There is a tragic tale behind Borussia Dortmund forward Paco Alcacer's rise to stardom - © This content is subject to copyright.
bundesliga

The emotional journey of Borussia Dortmund's Paco Alcacer

Strength is often drawn from adversity and few have had to fight through the kind of emotions that have made Borussia Dortmund forward Paco Alcacer so strong.

bundesliga.com went to Spain to discover the roots of Borussia Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer, and trace his emotional journey through football so far.

Torrent, on the outskirts of Valencia. A town of around 80,000 inhabitants, and Alcacer's home town. Here, the Spain international is a hero, but not only for his on-field exploits.

Watch: the story of Paco Alcacer

Aged 12, he joined the Valencia youth academy and at 18, he made his debut in a friendly against Roma. It was always clear to his teammates at the time that he was going to be something special. However, that debut proved to be a turning point in his career, and not for the goal he scored.

His father was at the Mestalla to see it, but the events of that day would change a young Paco forever. Hours after seeing his son score on his first-team debut, Alcacer's father collapsed and suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 44. His son was still showering in the dressing room.

"The whole family was with him, except for Paco," said Jorge Mil, a close friend of Alcacer's. "Fate did not want him to hug his father once more when he came out of the shower after his debut."

Paco Alcacer has been a hit in the Bundesliga since joining Borussia Dortmund in the summer. - Getty Images

The emotional rollercoaster from scoring and subsequently learning his father had died would be hard on anybody, not least an 18-year-old who had been enjoying the best day of his life. Yet Alcacer decided the right way to pay tribute to his father would be with a career he would have been proud of. Now a record-breaker in the Bundesliga, he has delivered on that promise.

After every goal he scores, Alcacer raises his arms to the sky as a dedication to his father. With 43 goals in 124 outings for Valencia, 15 in 50 for Lionel Messi's Barcelona and eight in his first 218 minutes (!) as a Dortmund player, while he has since moved on to 12 in 13 mainly substitute appearances, his arms are raised rather regularly.

The 25-year-old has also found the back of the net nine times for Spain and his father would certainly have been proud of a player whose path to glory may have been tinged with tragedy, but is now glittering with glory.