Enner Valencia: West Ham striker on milking cows and Green Street

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
West Ham striker Enner Valencia
Valencia earned the nickname Superman for his goalscoring exploits

With an impeccable navy suit, razor-sharp haircut and cheeky anecdote, it would be easy to forget where West Ham striker Enner Valencia has come from.

But a World Cup appearance and place up front for a top-flight London side are a world away from the humble beginnings of the £12m summer signing with the 70mph shot.

"I come from a very poor background. In order to buy my first boots I had to go to work with my dad on the farm and milk some cows," recalls the Ecuador forward.

From attending to the cattle to the heat of Premier League battle, Valencia will spearhead the Hammers' attack when they play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

"I'm extremely happy, very very thankful for being here and I'm trying to enjoy every minute," says the 24-year-old, who scored his first goal in England with a thunderous strike against Hull City.

"I used to watch the Premier League on the telly and now being here I am living the dream."

Who is Enner Valencia?
Born in San Lorenzo, EcuadorOriginally a winger, but converted to a striker with a powerful shot
Aged 16 joined Caribe Junior, the same club where his namesake Antonio Valencia (no relation) startedSigned for Ecuadorian side Emelec, made his international debut in 2012, before joining Mexican side Pachuca

He grew up on a modest farm on Ecuador's Pacific coast, began his career at Emelec in the port city of Guayaquil and went on to help them win the league title last year.

Valencia moved to Mexican side Pachuca, where he scored 18 times in 23 matches, netted three times for Ecuador in the World Cup and then signed for West Ham.

Along the way his scoring heroics earned him the nickname 'Superman', but it was a different kind of film that helped him learn more about the Hammers - confessing to watching the hooligan flick Green Street.

"I knew about West Ham mainly from some films I watched. I was not scared but respected the fact that they are very passionate supporters," he says when asked about the movie.

"When I knew I was coming here I didn't know what to expect, but as soon as I arrived people said that was back in the old days and it's all changed now."

Things are changing at West Ham, who are in their penultimate season before a move to the Olympic Stadium - sales of high-end hospitality packages for the revamped venue began this week.

Manager Sam Allardyce is pursuing a more attacking brief - which reaped dividends in Saturday's 3-1 win over Liverpool - after a turbulent 2013-14.

Last season some fans, unhappy about the style of play, even booed the side off after one victory, over Hull.

However, Valencia makes a point of how respectful he thinks fans are in England.

"Here, we lost the opening game [against Tottenham] but people stayed and showed their support," he smiles as his answers are given through an interpreter.

Highlights: Honduras 1-2 Ecuador

"In South America, if you lose a match you cannot even go out in the street.

"It happened in Ecuador when I was playing for my previous club Emelec. It was a derby and our main rivals were top of the league.

"We had to beat them in order to be level with them on the same number of points and we couldn't get the win and it was very difficult for everyone to get out of the stadium."

Valencia's opening Premier League salvo, a 25-yard rocket from a standing start, travelled at about 70mph. His midfield team-mate Mark Noble says such efforts are a regular feature in training, but the striker is not about to get carried away.

"It's been a good start the way I have adapted," says the Ecuadorian.

"It's exactly what I was expecting and what I like about the Premier League that anyone can beat anyone - that's what makes it such an interesting league.

"The culture is very different. The main thing for me is the language barrier. I'm improving my English and people here are very respectful. I study English on a daily basis.

"I hope I can continue to score to help get the team as high as possible."

From Ecuador to east London via Mexico and Brazil in nine months, but Valencia still has his feet on the ground.