JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Ten years ago Carlos Salcido was so desperate that three times he risked his young life trying to escape Mexico's grinding poverty for the American dream of California.
Three times Salcido, whose mother died when he was a teenager, was caught by US border guards and unceremoniously despatched back over the border.
Now, a decade later, the 30-year-old from Ocotlan, near Guadalajara, is on the verge of playing in the World Cup second round.
The Mexican central defender, who plays his club football for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league, is enjoying the experience of his second World Cup after a win over France left the side on the brink of advancing to the last 16.
It's a long way from his roots.
Salcido had not made the grade when at 20 he impressed scouts from Guadalajara having joined friends in a kickabout after a spell with lower league side Gallos de Aguascalientes.
The talent spotters immediately recommended him to Chivas Rayadas.
After more than 100 games with the top flight side, PSV took a fancy to him and he made his move to Europe in 2006, since when he has made 120 appearances with the Eredivisie outfit, winning the title in his first season.
"It's been like a dream. Never before had I left Mexico - save for when I crossed illegally into California to look for work," said Salcido.
Born on April 2, 1980 into a poor family, Salcido lost his mother at 15 and moved to find work in nearby Guadalajara, working for one of the 'maquiladoras' assembly plant firms where goods are put together with imported materials before being sent back to the original market.
He also worked as a carpenter as he desperately tried to make ends meet.
After his big break with Chivas he still had to struggle to win over coach Oscar Ruggeri and was briefly farmed back to Gallos.
But by 2003 he was a regular, owing to good positional sense and speed.
Then in 2005 he received a call-up to the national side and appeared in all of his side's four matches at the 2006 World Cup finals when Argentina - potential second round opponents again this time - beat the Mexicans in the last 16.
The previous year he also played a starring role in Mexico's run to the final of the Confederations Cup, scoring in the semis against Argentina.
"I like him as a player," says Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, though at 1m75 he is not the tallest defender around.
Salcido admits it his sometimes hard to comprehend how far he has come from such inauspicious beginnings.
"Everything has happened so fast. I had to adapt to many things. Overnight, I had money, a good job and was in the limelight."
After extending his PSV contract until 2012 he is now said to be the second-best Mexican player, though still some way off the reported 4.9 million euros a year earned by Barcelona veteran and fellow defender Rafael Marquez.
Now Salcido's experience will be a potentially key factor as they go up against Uruguay in their final group game either getting the win to ensure top spot or the draw that will bring on Diego Maradona's Argentinians in the next round.
With old stager Cuauhtemoc Blanco, he is a veteran, having now earned 69 caps.
In a week which has seen the French and even England lose their focus, Salcido says older heads need to keep things in perspective.
At the 2007 Gold Cup he went missing after a difference of opinion with the technical staff, who said he was unfit.
"Fame, success in Europe - it went to my head. I forgot my humble origins and let it affect my teammates and the team. The important thing at a World Cup is the team."
|Guardiola plays down dominant Bayern win|
|Schalke grateful for controversial penalty win|
|Rakitic takes heart from Barca performance|
|League One Review: Crewe run continues as Preston win again|
|Garcia accepts blame for Bayern mauling|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Sevilla, Napoli hit the road|
|Drogba delight as Maribor pay the penalty|
|Schalke 4 Sporting Lisbon 3: Choupo-Moting heroics earn Di Matteo incredible win|
|BATE 0 Shakhtar Donetsk 7: Luiz Adriano the five-goal hero|
|APOEL 0 Paris Saint-Germain 1: Late Cavani strike seals victory|
|Barcelona 3 Ajax 1: Messi and Neymar help sink Dutch champions|
|Chelsea 6 Maribor 0: Drogba on target in comfortable success|
|Porto 2 Athletic Bilbao 1: Quaresma leaves it late to ensure maximum points|
|Roma 1 Bayern Munich 7: Guardiola´s men run riot in Rome|
|Slutsky delighted with CSKA spirit|
|Sloppy City frustrate Pellegrini|
|Lille v Everton: Martinez´s men look to continue recovery|
|Tottenham v Asteras Tripolis: Spurs begin big week with group leaders|
|Bale out of Clasico, confirms Ancelotti|
|Galatasaray the perfect test for Dortmund, says Klopp|
|CSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Visitors remain winless after spurning two-goal lead|
|Rodgers plays down Bale absence|
|Allegri urges Juventus to keep calm|
|Subotic wants confidence-boosting victory|
|Fernandes apologises for Taarabt-Redknapp spat|
|Lopes hopeful of return after mini-stroke|
|Gabi to miss out for Atletico|
|Inter v Saint-Etienne: Mazzarri´s men eye next step to last 32|
|Hasi warns of Arsenal threat|
|Verona hit with fine and partial stadium closure|
|Sunderland players offer fans refund after Southampton mauling|
|Schmidt wants Leverkusen reaction|
|Redknapp: Taarabt the worst professional I have ever come across|
|´I haven´t been up to my full potential´, admits Shaw|
|Flamini: Injuries no excuse for Arsenal form|
|Busquets to miss Ajax clash|
|Bale out of Anfield clash|
|Levante sack Mendilibar|
|Platini talks down Ronaldo´s Ballon d´Or chances|
|Messi and Ronaldo out of this world in UEFA Champions League space race|
|Bring on Bilbao - Lopetegui|
|J.League Preview: Petrovic positive despite Urawa form|
|Argentine Primera Division Review: Calleri inspires Boca|
|Guardiola: Garcia´s Roma reign ´wonderful´|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Colo Colo claim key win|
|Mata had ´no relationship´ with Mourinho|
|Paraguayan Division Profesional Review: Libertad gain ground, Cerro Porteno held|
|Lovren demands better display|
|´Arrogant´ Van Gaal insists United can catch Chelsea|
|Sociedad loss a ´hammer blow´ - Arrasate|
|Genoa deserved a penalty - Gasperini|
|Passion kept me at Roma - De Rossi|
|Irvine ´bitterly disappointed´, questions Fellaini´s goal|
|Taarabt hits back at Redknapp claims|
|Genoa 1 Empoli 1: Tonelli hands visitors a point|
|Van Gaal blames United errors for draw|
|Real Sociedad 1 Getafe 2: Yoda brace stuns San Sebastian|
|West Brom 2 Manchester United 2: Blind rescues point for Van Gaal´s men|
|Russian Premier League Review: CSKA, Rubin claim easy victories|
|De Boer calls for confident Ajax|
|Robben hails Roma ahead of Champions League showdown|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Besiktas win again, Sneijder settles derby|
|Monaco v Benfica: Jardim to face off with former rivals|
|Cordoba turn to Djukic|
|Anderlecht v Arsenal: Wenger on the defensive after domestic struggles|
|Ferrer fired by Cordoba|
|Olympiacos v Juventus: Allegri´s men face stern Greek test|
|PSG will not hide behind injuries, says Blanc|
|Podolski rubbishes Spurs rumours|
|Galatasaray among teams fined by UEFA|
|Stoke loan out Butland and Wilkinson|
|Atletico Madrid v Malmo: Turan warns Spanish champions|
|Di Matteo: Sporting clashes crucial|
|Donbass Arena heavily damaged by shelling|
|Toure getting back to his best - Pellegrini|
|Liverpool v Real Madrid: Rodgers marvels at Real quality|
|Starke injury adds to Bayern´s goalkeeper troubles|
|Bayer Leverkusen v Zenit: Bellarabi wants consistent focus|
|Birmingham part company with Clark|
|Roma not afraid of Bayern, insists Garcia|
|Ludogorets v Basel: Sousa after more of the same|
|Galatasaray v Borussia Dortmund: Reus calls for unity|
|Luis Enrique coy on Messi sub snub|
|Indian Super League Preview: Chennaiyin with chance to go top|
|Costa to miss Maribor clash|
|League Two Preview: Wilcox promises York improvement, Tranmere seek to end losing streak|
|League One Preview: Grayson excited by Preston form|
|Championship Preview: Birmingham begin life without Clark, Fulham out to continue revival|
|Ronaldo will retire at Real insists Ancelotti|
|Musa: City are weak at the back|
|El Shaarawy: I could have played better|
|Allardyce targets City scalp|
|Bale suffers hip injury|
|Atleti cannot rely on set-pieces, says Suarez|
|Martinez: Baines at another level|
|Juan: Inter must maintain hunger|
|Van Gaal: Three month comment was stupid|
|Bielsa proud to equal Marseille record|
|Redknapp: No one could do better than me|
|Manolas: I rejected Juve and Arsenal for Roma|
|Winning without Costa delights Mourinho|
|Mannone vows to repay fans|
|Balotelli ´doing his best´, insists Rodgers|
|Marseille feeling streak fatigue|
|Fournier hails substitutes´ influence|
|Copa Sudamericana Preview: River wary of Libertad|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Santa Fe stay top, Medellin lose|
|Valencia must bounce back - Nuno|
|Ecuadorian Primera A Review: Blanco inspires Barcelona|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Review: Wilstermann go top, Blooming slip up|
|MLS Review: Sounders deny Galaxy, Donovan|
|Venezuelan Primera Division Review: Caracas continue rise, Tachira stumble|
|Uruguayan Primera Division Review: Alonso´s brace inspires rampaging Nacional|
|Inter behind Mazzarri - Ausilio|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Alianza Lima leapfrog Union Comercio|
|Benitez happy with second half|
|Costa Rican Primera Division Review: Alajuelense jump clear, Saprissa win fifth straight|
|Liga MX Review: Leon continue resurgence|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro, Sao Paulo bounce back|
|Hart: Aguero ´useless´ in training|