Former Everton and West Ham flop Enner Valencia who was once chased by police and dubbed ‘Superman’ takes centre stage in opening World Cup clash against Qatar

    Enner Valencia is a player that West Ham and Everton fans should remember, even if the memories aren’t especially fond ones.

    The striker spent three seasons in the Premier League, and took centre stage in the opening game of the World Cup as Qatar take on Ecuador.

    West Ham United – Enner Valencia (Ecuador)

    Valencia is one of Ecuador’s star players

    The 33-year-old has had an interesting life and career that has led him to this moment and the chance to get his country’s campaign off to the perfect start.

    Valencia was born in San Lorenzo, Ecuador. His family were poor, so he helped them make money to feed his siblings by selling milk on the street.

    He used a ball of rags as a football as he trained every day to improve and develop as a player.

    He said: “I was always with a ball, or with a bottle, or with whatever we came across, always trying to get a game going.

    “Loads of times I bunked off school to play. I told my parents I was going to school but I never got there. I went to play football. I’ve always been passionate about this game.”

    The forward rapidly progressed through the ranks and was snapped up by CS Emelec.

    Here the ex-Everton loan man made over 100 appearances and caught the attention of CF Pachuca in Mexico.

    As he was making his way with Emelec and Pachuca, the national team liked what they saw and called him up.

    Enner Valencia (West Ham)

    Valencia had two seasons with West Ham and one loan spell with Everton before moving back to Mexico

    He made his international debut in 2012 and played a starring role in the 2014 World Cup.

    Valencia impressed with his rapid pace and deadly finishing as he bagged three goals in three group games, but it wasn’t enough as the South American side crashed out.

    But the world had watched him perform, and West Ham made their move, signing the striker for just under £15million.

    The Hammers made a good start to the season and Valencia scored three Premier League goals in his first nine league games, also providing three assists.

    It genuinely looked like West Ham had stumbled across a bargain, with Chelsea linked with a move, while the player was enjoying his time in east London.

    Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “It’s a lot easier over here compared to Mexico. If you go out in London, people know you and ask for a picture, but always politely.

    “But in South America, in Mexico — no! They all crowd round and it’s photo after photo. The culture is completely different.”

    Valencia is Ecuador’s record goalscorer with 35 goals

    Valencia is Ecuador’s record goalscorer with 35 goals

    Valencia had enjoyed a rapid rise from the Ecuadorian league to the Premier League.

    Perhaps it was all a little too fast as West Ham’s form declined in the second half of the campaign, and so did Valencia’s, as he only scored one more league goal after November.

    But despite things not working out at club level, everyone back home loved Valencia, and he became known as ‘Superman’ for his heroics with the national team.

    He remained with West Ham for the 2015/16 campaign, but injuries limited his impact. He joined Everton on loan for the following year.

    He spent most of that season as a substitute and managed three goals across the 2016/17 campaign.

    6. Enner Valencia (Everton, left): 1 day, 12 hours and 55 minutes on the bench

    Valencia didn’t get all that much game time at Goodison Park

    While he was on loan with Everton, police chased the forward in his native Ecuador.

    There were reports suggesting that Valencia wasn’t helping with child maintenance money and owed £13,500 to his ex-partner.

    During Ecuador’s 3-0 win over El Salvador, the forward was substituted and carried away by medical staff, with the police chasing him.

    There was even an arrest warrant put out for the forward after his former wife launched several legal challenges against the striker.

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    After he released a statement proving his innocence, the charges were dropped, but it still must have impacted the player, and he left England for good that summer.

    He returned to Mexico to play for Tigres, where he spent three years before joining Fenerbahce.

    And it is here where Valencia has rediscovered that goalscoring touch.

    In 90 appearances, he has scored 41 goals, including 15 this season.

    He heads to Qatar in good form and is ready to help his country make it through their group.

    Valencia might not have lived up to his initial potential, but at 33, he is ready to be his country’s hero once more.

    He had fans going wild when he had the ball in the back of the net inside the first three minutes of the match against Qatar, only for it to be controversially ruled out by VAR.

    Valencia did eventually get on the scoresheet, winning a penalty and then converting it to give Ecuador a much deserved 1-0 lead.

    Valencia was the star of the show in the opening game

    Valencia was the star of the show in the opening game

    The ex-Premier League man was the clear star of the show as he then doubled his country’s lead later on in the first half to pile on the misery for the hosts.

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