Formerly one of South America’s most prolific forwards, the ex-America player saw his dreams shattered in 2010 when he was shot in the head
Former Paraguay and America striker Salvador Cabanas has revealed that he had agreed a move to Manchester United before the tragic shooting that all but ended his career at the top level.
Cabanas was regarded as one of South America’s finest goalscorers in his heyday, and was named the continent’s Footballer of the Year in 2007 as well as finishing as the Copa Libertadores top scorer two years running.
But in January 2010, shortly after leading Paraguay to a spot in the World Cup with six strikes in qualifying, Cabanas was shot in the head in a Mexican nightclub after an altercation with a known drug trafficker.
His injuries impeded him from representing his country in South Africa, and despite returning to the game in 2012 with hometown club 12 de Octubre he struggled to recover his past form, and eventually bowed out of the game two years later.
Now working in Paraguayan capital Asuncion selling bread, Cabanas revealed that he was set to line up at Old Trafford before his life was turned upside down.
“I had signed a pre-contract agreement for £1.3m for a transfer to Europe. They told me my destination would be Manchester United,” he told Telefuturo.
“Club America doubled my salary and gave me one apartment in Acapulco and another in Cancun to try and keep me at the club.”
Cabanas’ recovery from the serious head injuries sustained in the attack was marred by conflicts with America over unpaid wages, and he admits that he felt isolated during that period.
“I realise now that when you play, you are a star, and when you don’t nobody pays you any attention,” he added.
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“It is sad. I was an idol in Paraguay. Nobody from the Paraguay FA or my team came forward to help. The regular people do remember me, I respect them a lot and that is what keeps you going. That is life, part of being a footballer.”
And despite seeing his fortunes change radically, the former superstar turned baker is happy with his new station in life: “I am going to keep moving forward.
“I like the work, people recognise me and ask me about football. I have a lot of fun.”