Sunday 18 September 2016, 09:18

All-time top scorer Falcao turns attention to title

It had been a below-par personal performance, but all that was forgotten after he received the ball from Rodrigo on the right and played a give-and-go with Ari up that flank. Continuing his run, he met the return pass with a first-time left-footed finish that flew into the top of the net, to the goalkeeper's right.

This was anything but just another goal for Falcao. With it, his 44th strike at the FIFA Futsal World Cup, the Brazilian star surpassed compatriot Manoel Tobias to establish himself as the competition's all-time leading scorer.

"I was really anxious," the winger told after the match, still sporting his iconic No12 shirt. "With all my experience and what I've been through in my career, I wasn't expecting to feel that way. And it showed: things weren't coming off for me and people were getting disappointed. It was just when I thought that it wasn't going to happen today that the three goals came."

His overriding feeling was one of relief that this subplot will not be a distraction during the business end of the competition: "I know it's a historic day for me, futsal and Brazil, but I wanted to get it done and dusted now so that my mind is clear in the knockout stage. Now I can really say that I'm only thinking about winning the title."

The talisman had already ticked off another piece of history in Brazil's previous game by becoming the tournament's top appearance-maker. On that occasion too it was Tobias, with whom Falcao shared a dressing room at Guatemala 2000, who was dethroned. "Tobias's place in the history books is safe – he's a futsal titan. To think I used to dream of being like him!" the 39-year-old said with a laugh.

One final record in sightIt was in Guatemala that Falcao opened his account. The date was 18 November, but who were the opponents? "Kazakhstan!" he replied swiftly, passing the test with flying colours. "How could I forget my first goal? I've actually got a very good memory and it's rare for me not to be able to remember a goal. Every day that I'm involved in futsal is a special one for me."

After finishing his debut tournament with six goals and a silver medal, he really ratcheted up his scoring exploits four years later at Chinese Taipei 2004, finding the net 13 times. This tally earned him the adidas Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards, but the biggest trophy of the lot once again eluded him. In fact, that was the only edition at which his team failed to make the final.

His most prolific campaign would come on home soil in 2008. Despite racking up 15 goals, he had to settle for the adidas Silver Boot, but it is fair to say he was not overly bothered, as he was finally crowned a world champion for the first time and was again named the player of the tournament.

Thailand 2012 was a totally different matter. Physical issues limited his game time, but he still mustered four goals, three of which were crucial. "The two against Argentina in the quarter-finals were the most important goals of my career because of my situation, everything I went through, and also because Brazil were on the brink of being knocked out." He would go on to notch once in the final victory over Spain.

With seven goals in three matches against them, Ukraine have been the legend's worst-hit victims on the world stage. Next are Solomon Islands, thanks to the double hat-trick he fired home in their only meeting, followed by Argentina and Australia, against whom he has struck five apiece. He has scored seven times so far in Colombia and there is every reason to believe that he will add several more.

Falcao has already announced that he will retire from international duty at the end of the tournament, but he still has one more record left to break: if he tastes glory again, he will be the first player to win three Futsal World Cups. Suffice it to say, then, that he is not resting on his laurels: "Now I want more: I want to be the top scorer, the best player and a champion."