Watford's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo says his seven years playing in Europe have made him a stronger person.
He left home aged 18 to play in Norway in freezing conditions.
"It changed many things about me. My friends used to call me mummy's boy. I liked being with my mum and brothers.
"Being there by myself, I realised my mum or dad weren't there. I had to work hard, I had to make my life out of what I was doing," the 25-year-old told BBC Three Counties Radio.
Born in Lagos, Ighalo joined Oslo side Lyn in 2007 and often played in harsh weather, a stark contrast to the temperatures he was used to in Africa.
|Odion's blockbuster career|
|Lyn (2007-08)||Udinese (2008-14)|
|Granada (loan, 2009-10)||Cesena (loan, 2010)|
|Granada (loan, 2011-14)||Watford (2014)|
"Living in Nigeria, it's like 40 degrees. I went to Norway and sometimes it's like minus 23," he said.
"It was not easy going there as a young player with no family. But playing in Europe was my dream."
After a successful first season in Norway, Ighalo joined Udinese, but spent most of his six years with the Italian side on loan at Spanish club Granada.
Watford, like Udinese and Granada, are owned by the Pozzo family, and Ighalo joined the Hornets on an initial loan in July, before signing a contract until 2017 last week.
He has scored three goals in his last five games, having taken up the central striker role in recent weeks.
"It took me time to adapt. I'm improving little by little and I know when I get to my best I will do more than I am now," he said.
Amid his European travels, Ighalo has always provided financial support for his parents.
He added: "If I don't look after my mother, what am I doing here?
"After God comes my mum. I do my best to make sure she is happy. Every month I send some of my salary to my parents, because I want to take care of them like they took care of me."