CARLOS Salcido has finally made it to the Premiership with Fulham after an amazing journey through heartbreak and hunger.
The 30-year-old Mexican World Cup defender endured losing his mum when he was nine – deportation from the USA three times - working in a carwash at 14 – and even the effects of eating nothing but fast-food because he didn’t have the English to ask for anything else.
The left-back’s climb from near poverty to an excellent debut at Blackburn last Saturday as the natural successor to Paul Konchesky appears as smooth as silk.
The same can hardly be said for Salcido’s rise to glory.
"I thought I was lucky to get a job in the carwash," he explained. "But my feet were suffering with the water and the boots and I reluctantly had to quit.
Salcido had a batch of illegal goes at crossing the US border like so many of his countrymen in search of a better life.
But it was only at the age of 20 when the second youngest of six used a fake player’s licence to get a trial with Mexican club Chivas in his native Guadalajara he got his first break.
He impressed coach Ramon Candelario, who immediately forked out a $1,000 to make sure he got his man.
Salcido explained: "I told him I lived with an aunt and we didn’t eat so well – and he realised that if he gave me the money maybe I could really make it as a footballer."
When the established Salcido was transferred to PSV Eindhoven in 2006 he discovered the set-up in Holland was nothing like the help he’s had since joining Fulham.
"After 15 days in Eindhoven I was desperate. I felt abandoned," he said. "Not knowing what to do, I only ate at a McDonalds or Kentucky because it was easier, and my game suffered for a while.
"But I’ve always dreamed of playing in the Premier League, and Fulham have given me that opportunity. Since I joined, I’ve met very nice people and everyone has been very supportive."