Dani Pacheco and the misplacement of faith


The name Daniel Pacheco Lobato, commonly known as Dani Pacheco, leaves a stain on my heart.

The former Liverpool player is one I wholeheartedly put my faith in during his short career on Merseyside. A Spanish youth international, Pacheco spent 6 years at Anfield, making just 5 first team appearances.

How could it be that a man so impressive in the Liverpool youth setup failed to make the grade at senior level? How could a man seemingly so talented with a ball at his feet fail to even be given a chance in the senior team?

Sent on an emergency loan to Norwich for the rest of the 2011 season in March, and immediately impressed setting up a Grant Holt goal on his debut. Pacheco made 6 appearances for Norwich, scoring 2 goals.

Surely this was the chance for Pacheco on Merseyside?

Sadly, it was not and the Spaniard was sent back out on loan, this time to his native Spain. The end for Pacheco on Merseyside looked imminent.

Would things have been different had Rafa Benitez remained in charge of Liverpool? We’ll never know, but his compatriot was a manager who always showed faith in Pacheco, as he explained in an exclusive interview with the official Liverpool in 2011.

“It was him [Benitez] who gave me the opportunity to enter the professional football world and the person that had faith in me and brought me to Liverpool.”

In 2013, after two consecutive years on loan away from Anfield, Pacheco left the club permanently. On failing to break into the first team, Pacheco said:

“Football is like this. I was only young when I came here and was pushed to the top – playing in the reserves from day one and things were great. I thought if I stand out, soon I will be forming part of the first team. Maybe if I played more first-team games, I would have felt more stability playing at that level and that might have allowed me to be more confident but it didn’t really work out that way.”

It’s strange; few departures from Anfield have hurt like that of Dani Pacheco. Only Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Robbie Fowler and Luis Suarez rank similarly in terms of departures that pulled on my heart strings.

These were club legends, though, men who had played in countless matches for the Reds and scored an unbelievable amount of goals. How could Pacheco be held in the same group?

Afterall, he never did score a goal for the Reds. I put this down to the misplacement of faith.

As football fans, we undoubtedly put endless amounts of faith in young players. I’ve done it over the years (Kerlon and Bojan come to mind) and continue to do so now. I’m still convinced that Tiago Ilori will break into the Liverpool first team and deserves a chance. Will he get it? Probably not.

When Ilori eventually leaves Liverpool, like Pacheco it will be the lack of chance that will hurt. Fans get excited about young talents, almost invested in their future, so when they aren’t even given a chance by their club it hurts.

For Pacheco, the future at least seems to be looking up, though the higher levels of the game seem to be beyond him. A year with Alcocorn followed by a successful promotion year back to La Liga with Real Betis have been followed by a year loan spell to the Spanish Liga Adelane (second tier) with Alaves.

This year, he has played almost 2,000 minutes across 33 games, contributing 2 goals and 7 assists. Given a home and a chance, maybe Pacheco can prove his worth higher up. Let’s not forget, this is a man who the Golden Boot award at the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship and earned the nickname El Asesino (The Assassin) at the famed Barcelona La Masia academy.

To this day, when I see his name pop up on Football Manager I am tempted to sign him. Can I be the man to reignite the (fictional) career of Dani Pacheco? Who knows.

What I do know is the misplacement of trust can be difficult to deal with in football.

Written by Scott Salter, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Penalty Magazine. With kind permission to post on AE. This article originally appeared at: http://www.penaltymag.com/dani-pacheco-misplacement-faith/

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