Monday 25 June 2018, 12:59

The cry for The Tiger

  • A deafening roar greeted Falcao’s long-awaited first World Cup goal

  • ‘El Tigre’ revealed the feeling surpassed his expectations

  • Falcao’s Colombia team-mates raved about him to

By Alejandra Rueda with Colombia

When he walked on to the pitch at the Kazan Arena for Colombia’s final training session before their group meeting with Poland, Radamel Falcao looked towards one of the goals and imagined himself planting the ball into the back of it. It was a goal he had dreamed about many times, too many times. And that night was the last time he would do so.

On Sunday evening, in a stadium awash with yellow shirts, the goal he had yearned so long for finally came.

It arrived in the 70th minute, with Colombia already 1-0 up. Falcao manoeuvred himself into position, ran on to Juan Fernando Quintero’s precise through-ball and guided the ball into the net with the outside of his right boot. 'El Tigre' roared as he wheeled away in celebration, with more than 40,000 fans voicing their noisy appreciation. The Cafetero contingent was doing more than celebrate a goal, however – they were sharing in their captain’s joy.

When the dust had settled after Colombia's emphatic win, hundreds of reporters waited anxiously to hear from the man himself, to find out what was going through his mind when he finally opened his FIFA World Cup™ account.

“It was better than I imagined,” said Falcao, clearly thrilled but still managing to keep it all together. “You picture these things but the reality is on a different level.”

Summing up what it all meant, his coach Jose Pekerman said: “It’s one of the things that’s pleased us the most, because he’s an icon of the national team and Colombian football.”

A deafening cry Falcao suffered a cruel twist of fate four years ago, when, at the peak of his powers, an untimely and serious injury denied him a place at Brazil 2014. Having shed tears at his absence on that occasion, the fans were right behind him on the journey to Russia, every step of the way. “I realised that the whole of Colombia has been waiting for this moment,” said a grateful Falcao.

“We’re absolutely thrilled because we know everything El Tigre has been through,” team-mate Mateus Uribe told “He deserves this and so much more. It’s a very special moment for him and we’re right there with him. He’s a fighter and I think this is a reward for everything he’s sacrificed, for how professional he is, and how amazing he is as a person.”

The bitter tears of four years ago have been replaced by tears of joy. The cry Falcao let out as the ball hit the back of the net is one that he had been holding in for years and which rang around the world. “We’re delighted for him, for everything he’s worked for and for the consistency he’s shown,” commented Abel Aguilar, a team-mate of Falcao’s since their days together in Colombia’s youth teams.

The talismanic striker has shown himself to be nothing if not resilient and a source of inspiration for the youngsters that have come into the national team. Praising his skipper for his perseverance and drive, Uribe singled him out as an example for everyone to follow: “We have many things to learn from him: his professionalism, his fortitude, and his determination.”

Poland v Colombia: Radamel Falcao of Colombia celebrates

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