He has overcome personal tragedy and professional adversity, and still knows how to be a nice guy while winning you football matches — Borussia Dortmund have unearthed a rare gem in Paco Alcacer.
The Spain international forward's arrival at the Signal Iduna Park on a season-long loan - with an option for BVB to make the move a permanent one - has raised hopes this is the number 9 the club has been looking for. bundesliga.com turns the spotlight on the man aiming to be a worthy successor to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Michy Batshuayi.
"A natural fighter with a predisposition for non-conformity, Alcácer is a top-notch forward who can create danger and strike at an instant's notice." That's how Barcelona's official website described the new BVB man, and his ability to — like the 1980s video game icon — gobble up any chance that comes his way with predatory greed. It was a trait that was handy at the Camp Nou where he had been vying with Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Ousmane Dembele for the three attacking slots up front. In the 2016/17 season, he played only 1385 minutes under Luis Enrique, but his eight league goals in that time gave him the sixth-best goals-to-minutes ratio in the league. That stat is still more impressive when you consider Messi, Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo were three of the five names ahead of him. Last season, he got seven goals in just 11 competitive starts. "You have the goalscoring instinct from being little, but you can improve it through training," Alcacer said of himself. Seems he has been training a lot…
3) Tragic loss
*Translation: Good luck with the new move, buddy!
Francisco 'Paco' Alcacer Garcia hails from Torrente, six miles from the city of Valencia and nine miles from the sea. The happy, peaceful existence he enjoyed there was shattered in August 2011 when his 44-year-old father collapsed and died of a heart attack as the family left Valencia's Mestalla Stadium.
"I was hit hard and out of nowhere when I was 18. I couldn't even say goodbye to my father, it was so tough," Alcacer told El Pais of the incident, which happened after he had scored the final goal in his club's 3-0 win over Roma in a friendly. "But that gave me the strength to keep fighting and see things in a different way."
4) MSN…& A
Had coach Enrique been able to shoehorn Alcacer into his side with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, Barcelona fans would have had an almost unique chance to use the Village People's signature hit for what would surely have been one of football's all-time greatest terrace tunes. But predictably, with competition for places fierce, Alcacer only played a bit-part role. He was still made to feel part of the team, though, with Andres Iniesta inviting him to dinner from time to time, and Suarez showing understanding when Alcacer suffered the dreaded drought that endured an excruciating 16 appearances. "Don't worry, a goal will come, don't think about it, it also happened to me," the Uruguay international told his young teammate, who scored ten and registered seven assists in his two full seasons with the Catalan giants.
8) Club and country
It's perhaps unsurprising that former Real Madrid boss Vicente del Bosque was attracted to the profile of this fan of Ronaldo who compares his playing style to that of the La Liga giants' ex-Schalke man Raul. After making his debut in September 2014, six goals came in 13 appearances for La Roja — a very healthy strike rate at international level — though after he missed out on UEFA EURO 2016, Alcacer was not called up by Del Bosque's replacement, Julen Lopetegui. Perhaps now his former coach at Barca, Luis Enrique, has taken over, he may swell a collection that last had a cap added to it in March 2016.
10) Big heart
Alcacer was regularly seen giving something back to the community during his time in Spain. He visited children's hospitals and care facilities, and was part of Valencia's annual charity calendar shoot for ASINDOWN, a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to "achieve the integral development of people with Down's Syndrome and to promote their full integration in the family, education and society". He also donated to UNICEF's efforts to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Haiti caused by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 - and took to social media to encourage his followers to do the same.