Newcastle United midfielder Cheik Tiote admits his African background has helped him in the ruthless world of pro football.
Tiote's robust approach and seemingly boundless energy levels have made him an instant hit with Newcastle's fans, but it is a hunger to succeed which drives the player on.
He said: "I started playing aged 12, in Africa. Everybody knows that the conditions there are not the best, but you must have the desire and mental strength to get over it.
"That's what made me who I am today. You need to just keep working hard and believe in your ability.
"In Africa, when I started playing football, I didn't have any boots, so that meant I worked very hard on my technique, which helped me when I did wear boots from the age of about 15."