Salomón Rondón is now feeling so acclimatised to the Premier League that this week he agreed to his first interview in English. His capricious journey to West Bromwich Albion has taken him from his native Venezuela to Spain learning his trade alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy, and then three years playing in the freezing conditions of Russia.
Yet it seems there is one culture shock that the £12 million striker is still struggling to overcome under head coach Tony Pulis. "It's my opinion but I think it's colder in West Bromwich than in Russia," he says. "When it snows over there it's cold but it's not so wet. I don't mind snow but here you also get the wind and it's very, very cold.
"I like the quality of life and calmness here, though. People respect you – if you are in a restaurant people will wait until you have finished eating before taking a picture. When I go back to Venezuela I'm halfway through my food and people are asking for photographs."
Rondón, arguably Venezuela's most high-profile footballer, was West Brom's record signing when he moved from Zenit St Petersburg in August last year. It was a slow start as he struggled to adapt to Pulis's intense style of play and it is only this season that he is finally showing why expectations were so high.
Now he epitomises the lung-busting commitment demanded by Pulis , often playing up front on his own, and it was his energetic, muscular performance which unsettled defenders Wes Morgan and Robert Huth in Albion's last game at champions Leicester. Rondón considers Pulis as a growing influence on his career yet there have been other managers, such as Andre Villas-Boas and Manuel Pellegrini, who have played their part in his education.
Playing alongside Van Nistelrooy, the former Manchester United and Holland forward, at Málaga was also a rewarding experience.
"He's a good person, all the time he was speaking to me about the football. He could speak Spanish and for my career it was a good experience," he says. "Ruud talked to me about movement, and finishing. He got involved in my learning, and my development, he was an influential figure because I learnt a lot from him.
"Pellegrini was also a good gaffer. He was talking to me all the time and giving me advice on my career."
With three goals this season Rondón will face Burnley on Monday night in confident mood, as Albion look to build on the 2-1 win over Leicester, arguably one of Pulis's finest results at the club.
Pulis points to Rondón's improving English as hugely significant, while the 27-year-old's partner and two young children are also settled in Sutton Coldfield, eight miles away from the club's Walsall training base.
He is easy-going and low maintenance, nicknamed 'Salo' by team-mates, with captain Darren Fletcher recently claiming he was one of the most underrated forwards operating in the top flight.
West Brom's supporters have also taken to him, chanting his name to the tune of the Crystals' 1960s hit Da Doo Ron Ron. "I am taking English lessons twice a week at home and it is important to learn the language of the dressing room. It's definitely helping me become a better player in the Premier League," he says, talking slowly but with no clear signs of a Brummie accent.
"The big challenge is the league. The physical side of the game is my world. I have to face up to the big guys every week, like Huth and Morgan.
"In Spain, there are maybe two or three big teams and there are different levels in my opinion. In Russia, there are maybe four or five teams that fight for the title. But here, in my opinion the Premier League is very competitive.
"For example, in the last game we beat the champions of England. Any team can play in any stadium and win. That is very good for the people, and for the players."
- West Bromwich Albion to speak with Chris Hughton about head coach role
- Priti Patel FINALLY surfaces in radio interview to slap down overzealous police after they threaten to check people's shopping for 'non-essential' items and set up roadblocks to ensure motorists only make legitimate trips during coronavirus lockdown
- Nationwide hunt is launched for anyone who came into contact with Britain's first coronavirus victims: Two Chinese tourists are diagnosed after falling ill at a York hotel - so why is it STILL open?
Salomon Rondon warming to life in England — even if West Bromwich is colder than Russia have 804 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at November 19, 2016. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.