You can’t hear the name Radamel Falcao without allowing your mind to drift back to the heady days of 2012, when El Tigre was banging in the goals for Atlético Madrid (70 in 91 appearances) and Colombia (nine goals in 2014 World Cup qualifying) and finishing fifth in Ballon d’Or voting.
Of course what followed was that strange $70.4 million transfer to newly promoted Monaco, a devastating ACL injury and a crushing absence at the 2014 World Cup.
After failed loan spells with Manchester United (2014-15) and Chelsea (2015-16), Falcao again returned to form with Monaco and had three excellent seasons there between 2016 and 2019, but a transfer to Galatasaray seemed to mark the beginning of the end for Colombia’s GOAT.
But this past summer, Falcao made a shock return to LaLiga and the city he loves so much, Madrid, albeit with less world-renowned club: newly promoted Rayo Vallecano.
Falcao’s salary reportedly went from $5.9 million in Turkey to $1.4 million in Spain, but he’s really only concerned with one thing at this point, and that’s playing for Colombia at the 2022 World Cup.
“One of my goals is to make it back to the Colombia national team,” Falcao said at his presentation. “We are fighting for a spot at Qatar and what better than to come to this institution which gives me the opportunity to play. I promise to give my best, play with my heart and if God is willing, score lots of goals.”
Well, we’re seven matches into the 2021-22 campaign and Rayo is in fifth, which is only one point back of Atlético, and Falcao has already turned himself into a folk legend at the club.
On his debut last Saturday, El Tigre entered the match against Getafe in the 71st-minute and scored his first goal in the 81st.
35-year-old Radamel Falcao scores on his debut for Rayo Vallecano!El Tigre is back pic.twitter.com/4Rkf3qJDut
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 18, 2021
Then, in mid-week action, Falcao came off the bench in the 76th-minute against Athletic Bilbao and scored the game-winner in stoppage time.
¡Lo volvió a hacer! ⚽️Falcao Garcia anotó otra vez con el Rayo Vallecano. La anotación del 'tigre', que entró al partido desde el banquillo, llegó en los instantes finales del encuentro y sirvió para darle los tres puntos a su equipo frente al Athletic.DirecTV Sports pic.twitter.com/pQUzHP1MVf
— El País Cali #ElPaisPaLante (@elpaiscali) September 21, 2021
On Sunday, Falcao made his first start for Rayo and ultimately scored what would prove the match-winner in a 3-1 victory over Cádiz.
RADAMEL EL TIGRE FALCAO IS ON FIRE!Three goals in three matches pic.twitter.com/zanUyXMas8
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 26, 2021
The 35-year-old is back in action next Saturday against Osasuna.