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Ford's Focus - Salvador's thunderbolts and surviving a bullet to the brain

I became aware of Salvador Cabañas through many hours spent playing Football Manager 2010. Wherever I bought him on the game, he would score goals.

Like other reasonably unknown players, I looked him up on Youtube to see what the real Mr Cabañas was like. The game programmers had got it spot on.

The Paraguayan international had a penchant for scoring long-range thunderbolts, but also possessed great heading and technical ability.

The powerful striker started 2010 at Club America in Mexico, arguably one of the best sides in the country, where he had enjoyed a successful four years, scoring 80 goals in 139 starts.

The World Cup was also taking place in June and his national side had qualified for the third time in a row. But he would never get to South Africa though.

On the 25 January, Cabañas was in the toilet of a club in Mexico City when he was shot in the head at close range by a Mexican drug dealer.

The doctors feared the Paraguayan forward may not make it as the bullet was lodged in his brain but after a series of operations and time spent in intensive care, Cabañas was discharged and began his incredible journey back to the football pitch.

Early beginnings

Cabañas began his career at the age of 17 at Club 12 de Octubre in the city of Itaugua. After three years spent in Paraguay, the young forward moved to Chilean side Audux Italiano.

His goalscoring ability was soon noticed and after a top-scorer award and successful two year spell, Cabañas was bought by Mexican side Jaguares de Chiapas.

After three prolific seasons at Jaguares, and a Primera Liga top scorer award, the Paraguayan was snapped up by Mexican giants Club America, where he went on to become a popular figure amongst teammates and fans alike.

The injury Cabañas sustained in the shooting made it unlikely he would play again, but after what doctors described as a “tremendous” recovery, Chava, as he was known in Mexico-has completed his journey, returning home to the team where it all began.

On Saturday 21 January, Cabañas was unveiled to fans of Club 12 de Octubre and begins training with the side on Monday.

The third tier in Paraguay may not be at the same level as the Mexican Primera Liga, but for Salvador Cabañas, just making it back onto the football pitch is an incredible achievement.

He may have scored some superb goals during his career, but you can bet when he gets his first for 12 de Octubre, it will rank amongst the best.

By Nick Ford


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