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."
|Life on the road is sweet for record-breaking Man City|
|Koeman marvels at Gueye for controlling Hazard|
|Tottenham 2 Arsenal 0: Alli, Kane deliver in White Hart Lane´s derby farewell|
|Home games will show whether we deserve top four – Guardiola|
|Kane breaks Tottenham record in north London derby|
|Montella: AC Milan on track despite draw at Crotone|
|It´s easy to lose your head - Conte salutes Chelsea attitude|
|City penalty was wrongly awarded - Agnew|
|´Ugly´ Roma paid the price, admits Spalletti|
|This was like a cup final – Cahill understands magnitude of Everton win|
|Jones and Smalling unlikely to face Celta, Mourinho claims|
|Everton 0 Chelsea 3: Pedro stunner sets the tone as Conte´s men pass final major test|
|Middlesbrough 2 Manchester City 2: Jesus salvages late point in top-four hunt|
|Crotone 1 AC Milan 1: Rossoneri stumble again in further blow to European hopes|
|Injury sidelines Juve´s Rugani|
|Rashford clearly deceived referee, says Swansea boss Clement|
|Mourinho has ´zero criticism´ of ´exhausted´ United but again questions defensive trio|
|Manchester United set unbeaten record with unwanted 36-year highest draw tally|
|Manchester United 1 Swansea City 1: Sigurdsson deals damaging blow to Mourinho´s top-four ambitions|
|Roma 1 Lazio 3: Keita double wins Derby della Capitale|
|Lallana return the best news Liverpool could get - Klopp|
|Inter have financial muscle to sign Messi, claims Mazzola|
|Mata returns to Man Utd squad, McTominay in line for debut|
|Gimenez set to miss Champions League semi-final|
|Melbourne Victory 1 Brisbane Roar 0: Berisha breaks resistance to book Grand Final spot|
|Tottenham ambitions bigger than beating Arsenal, says Kane|
|Xavi wins first trophy with Al Sadd|
|I wasn´t obsessed with goal drought, says Barcelona star Suarez|
|Alba frustrated but commits future to Barcelona|
|Pique: I have the most fun at Espanyol and Real Madrid|
|MLS Review: Kaka scores on return for Orlando, Sounders complete three-goal comeback|
|Gimenez doubtful for Madrid clash due to adductor injury|
|Wenger warns Tottenham they could lose stars due to wage structure|
|Luis Enrique: Barcelona will give everything in pursuit of titles|
|Manchester City boss Guardiola rues absence of ´special´ Jesus|
|I don´t get tired of praising these players - Simeone revels in Atletico Madrid´s rampant form|
|I could have scored more goals! - Bayern legend Lahm reflects on remarkable career|
|Espanyol 0 Barcelona 3: Suarez brace, Rakitic strike sends Luis Enrique´s side to the top|
|Bayern players celebrate Bundesliga success|
|Dyche delight as ´outstanding´ Burnley finally win away|
|Ancelotti thanks Bayern Munich ´family´ after securing Bundesliga title|
|Championship Review: Brighton shocked, Wigan relegated, Redknapp works his magic|
|Short admits his role in Sunderland relegation|
|Crystal Palace 0 Burnley 2: Barnes and Gray seal long-awaited first away win|
|Las Palmas 0 Atletico Madrid 5: Gameiro strikes twice in resounding win|
|Wolfsburg 0 Bayern Munich 6: Ancelotti´s men clinch title in style|
|Hughes preaches patience with Berahino, Bilic forgives Calleri rabona|
|Silva lauds Jakupovic penalty save as vital moment in Hull´s bid for survival|
|Vardy urged to ´finish on a high´ after firing Leicester to brink of safety|
|Zidane hails Marcelo, Carvajal as two of world´s top full-backs|
|Monaco 3 Toulouse 1: PSG thrashing forgotten as Mbappe and Lemar seal spirited win|
|Dortmund get two days off ahead of huge Hoffenheim match|
|Madrid dug deep in our soul, says match-winner Marcelo|
|Moyes: It´s my worst day in football|
|WATCH: Subotic leads ´yellow wall´ chants after helping Cologne draw at Dortmund|
|Southampton 0 Hull City 0: Jakupovic´s last-gasp penalty save preserves vital point|
|Sunderland relegated after 10 years in Premier League|
|Real Madrid 2 Valencia 1: Marcelo the hero after Ronaldo misses penalty|
|Sunderland 0 Bournemouth 1: Late King goal confirms hosts´ relegation|
|Stoke City 0 West Ham 0: Butland secures point for Potters|
|West Brom 0 Leicester City 1: Vardy fires Foxes closer to safety|
|RB Leipzig 0 Ingolstadt 0: Stalemate leaves Bayern on the brink of glory|
|Borussia Dortmund 0 Cologne 0: Stoger brings BVB back to earth|
|Torino star Belotti unperturbed by excessive price tag|
|McClean received death threats over Republic of Ireland decision|
|Ben Arfa denied Nice return as Emery selects PSG´s ´best´|
|Pioli´s Inter ´family´ fighting to halt poor run|
|Rangers 1 Celtic 5: Champions rampant in Old Firm rout|
|Granada relegated after defeat to Real Sociedad|
|Montella demands end to AC Milan transfer rumours|
|Coleman has no fear over return from broken leg|
|Sydney FC 3 Perth Glory 0: Premiers into final with video assistance|
|Mangala clueless on long-term Manchester City future|
|Barcelona´s Iniesta out of Catalan derby due to injury|
|Unbowed Kompany retains Champions League ambition at Manchester City|
|Marotta confirms Juventus interest in Sampdoria striker Schick|
|Our family is complete – Liverpool great Gerrard announces birth of son|
|Dybala: I need more goals to be like Del Piero|
|Melo among four suspended after Penarol-Palmeiras brawl|
|Ferguson would never do it - Sheringham unhappy with Mourinho style|
|´Wenger Out´ protest casts unhelpful light on Arsenal´s trip to Spurs|
|PSG unhappy over €100,000 fine after damage at Lyon|
|Toronto FC 2 Houston Dynamo 0: Altidore at the double for in-form MLS hosts|
|Toure: Hopefully United attack more next season|
|Conte can´t guarantee Hazard stay as Madrid circle Chelsea star|
|Allegri: Juventus´ draw with Atalanta the perfect preparation for Monaco tie|
|Too much, too soon? - Lampard questions Guardiola´s demands at Man City|
|Atalanta 2 Juventus 2: Last-gasp Buffon error proves costly|
|Cardiff City 0 Newcastle United 2: Atsu and Hayden keep title dreams intact|
|Mbappe will go to Arsenal but Henry comparisons premature, says Gunners legend Pires|
|Koeman: Everton need more players with Lukaku´s mentality|
|Tuchel ushers Dortmund back to the well after Bayern triumph|
|Conte impressed by ´four or five´ of Chelsea´s FA Youth Cup winners|
|Pochettino sets Spurs sights higher than finishing above Arsenal|
|Tottenham to move to Wembley for 2017-18|
|Simeone not interested in Jese´s Griezmann jibe|
|Griezmann wouldn´t get in Real Madrid team, says Jese|
|Praise for Lukaku but Chelsea boss Conte happy with Costa|
|United ´miss belief´ but Mourinho gunning for top honours next season|
|Manchester derby draw changes nothing for Liverpool - Klopp|
|Ronaldo so good he could play anywhere - Zidane|
|Barcelona boss Luis Enrique expects Neymar to keep his cool|
|Rooney in midfield, Mourinho and Tuanzebe at centre-back - Manchester United boss assesses injury cr|
|Madrid rotation policy not unjust - Zidane|
|Ancelotti insists he has full support at Bayern|
|Iniesta misses training ahead of Espanyol v Barcelona derby|
|Sanchez trolled by Leicester defender Huth over throw-in controversy|
|Thiago determined to win Champions League after pledging future to Bayern|
|Sanchez throw-in reaction not embarrassing, insists Wenger|
|Lovren pens long-term deal at Liverpool|
|Arsenal scouted Alli before Tottenham move, claims Wenger|
|Thiago signs new Bayern Munich deal|
|Mourinho and I often speak, reveals Evra|
|Barcelona and Real Madrid would find Premier League tough, says Klopp|
|My heart is in Italy, says Chelsea boss Conte|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Barrios hat-trick ensures Gremio stay unbeaten, River preserve perfect rec|
|Ancelotti future not discussed – Rummenigge|
|Mourinho: City will finish in the top four|
|Sevilla boss Sampaoli to be offered Argentina job, confirms AFA|
|Kovacic content at Real Madrid – agent|
|Bilic hails reported West Ham target Sturridge|
|Ramos open to presidential role at Real Madrid|
|Guardiola laments City´s ageing full-backs|