When Peru last appeared in the World Cup, Paolo Guerrero was not even born. It was 1982 and El Depredador – The Predator – was still two years from setting foot on the planet, but when he did arrive, he left his mark.

That first footballing footprint came at one of Peru's biggest clubs, Allianza de Lima, at the tender age of eight. Guerrero's rise was relentless and just ten years later, his family finally caved in and permitted the 18-year-old to move to Germany, joining Bayern Munich in 2002.

Key to their acceptance was the presence of another Peruvian legend in Bavaria, Claudio Pizarro – a man who would have a major influence on his development. "The support of Claudio did Paolo a great deal of good," said Guerrero's former coach at Allianza de Lima Jaime Duarte. "He was like a big brother." Indeed, being in the Bundesliga was the best thing that could have happened to the Peruvian pair.

Compatriot Claudio Pizarro (l.) took Guerrero under his wing at Bayern. © imago

First, however, Guerrero had to cut his teeth in Bayern's reserves. He made 18 appearances in the Regionalliga – at the time, Germany's third division – scoring eight goals and catching the eye of another Bayern and Germany legend, Gerd Müller. "Gerd likes Paolo a lot," said his mother Dona Peta. "He's offered him chocolates for each goal he scores."

It was a sweet incentive which Guerrero developed a taste for: 21 goals in 24 games in the subsequent season saw him firmly move onto the first-team radar; a Bundesliga bow a matter of months away. That came a quarter of a way through the 2004/05 season, when Felix Magath – a man renowned for showing faith in promising, young talent – reaped immediate rewards for his intuition, with the 20-year-old supplying two assists for Mehmet Scholl in a 2-0 win at Hansa Rostock.

WATCH: Guerrero's top five Bundesliga goals

Back-to-back Bundesliga and DFB Cup titles were the reward for his 17 goals and 11 assists as Guerrero became an established player in a side with a strong South American influence, together with the likes of Pizarro, Martin Demichelis, Lucio, Ze Roberto and Roque Santa Cruz.

Opportunities were nevertheless more limited than an ambitious Guerrero would have liked, which is why he boldly decided to leave the comfort of pre-programmed success in Bavaria and head north, where he added more strings to his Bundesliga bow at Hamburg, and arguably had to work harder for his goals.

Work harder he did, raising his overall tally to 47 goals in the Bundesliga and contributing to one of Hamburg's most successful periods in the past few decades, with two qualifications for Europe, including a march to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2008/09, where they were beaten on away goals by Bundesliga and northern Germany rivals Werder Bremen.

Some of Hamburg's most successful recent years bore Guerrero's signature. © gettyimages

In 2012, Guerrero returned to South America with suitcases packed full of experience in one of the world's strongest leagues, and it was no surprise that when he opened those cases at Corinthians in Brazil, more goals came pouring out. It was a similar story subsequently with Flamengo, where Guerrero underscored his reputation as one of South America's most prolific forwards – a reputation he had developed in the Bundesliga.

A fine goal in Peru's final Group C outing against Australia extended his lead at the top of La Bicolor's goalscoring charts - 35 strikes in 87 outings - but it was not enough for his nation to reach the knockout stages. With his typically wholehearted performances and talent honed in the Bundesliga, Guerrero bore no blame for the early exit; if it proves to be a final swansong, it was done in typically predatory style.

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