Enner Valencia was a rare bright spot for Ecuador during the 2014 World Cup, and shone well enough to become a target for a number of Premier League teams before winding up at West Ham United.
But the London club had some obstacles outside of other clubs’ interest when it came to landing the 25-year-old.
Those obstacles were Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam.
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Okay, it wasn’t the actors fault, rather the film in which they played violent West Ham supporters. “Green Street Hooligans” dealt with Wood’s character moving to London after being kicked out of Harvard law school, and becoming part of the hooliganism lifestyle around West Ham.
“I saw that movie and I was expecting something like that,” said Valencia, who signed for West Ham in July. “But they explained to me that belongs to the past.”
The club’s assurances eased any fears the 25-year-old Valencia was stepping into a football environment as hostile as the one back in the Ecuadorian league.
“In South America, you lose a match and you cannot go out,” Valencia said in Spanish. “With Emelec, after a derby, we lost and we couldn’t get out of the stadium.”
In fact, Valencia’s debut after joining West Ham from Mexican club Pachuca was a derby loss to north London club Tottenham last month.
“Here, you lose a match, and they’re still cheering for you,” he said. “It’s such an amazing thing.”
I totally understand, which is why oil workers became my heroes after a viewing of “Armageddon” and why I started a helicopter leasing firm after “Step Brothers”.