Not many players make the journey from marking a Brazilian World Cup winner to turning out in the North Riding FA Cup .
But Scarborough Athletic’s new Spaniard Carles Lleches Parra has lived that adventure.
The 30-year-old came through the ranks at European giants Real Madrid, alongside Javi Garcia and Roberto Soldado, but after opting to focus on his studies, he now finds himself trying to break into the Boro first team.
And after impressing Steve Kittrick in recent training sessions ahead of Saturday’s home game against Clitheroe, his chance may not be far away.
“I started playing football at my local team UD Oliva, a little town in Valencia,” he said.
“At the age of 14 I signed for Elche Academy where I spent two years. By the age of 16, I signed for Real Madrid Academy under-19s. I played three seasons for them.”
The experience of life at the Bernabeu is something that will always remain with the midfielder.
“It was an amazing experience, not because all the facilities or glamour, but for the enrichment of playing with fantastic footballers and coaches.
“It is true that playing for Madrid is a big responsibility and bring a lot of attention and admiration, however, it is nothing more than highly motivated young players trying to achieve their dreams.
“Playing for a well renowned club like Madrid is extremely challenging, rewarding and life changing.
“I had the opportunity to play with and against great players.
“During my time in Madrid I played with Javi Garcia, Jurado, Soldado, Juanfran Torres, Mata, Borja Valero, Ruben de la Red and many others very skilful players.
“I thought there were a lot of players who will make it, nevertheless, becoming a professional footballer depends on many aspects which sometimes are not in our hands.
“While playing in the academy we competed against Valencia FC and Atletico de Madrid among others where I confronted David Silva and David de Gea.
“During this time, I was coached for a season in Madrid by Quique Sanchez Flores, who is now coach of Watford. Like I said, it was a fantastic experience.”
Parra has many good memories of his time at Madrid, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
“I keep good memories of my football career, that is what we remember, friends and experiences along the way,” he added.
“Maybe the special one for me was when we played against the first team in preseason.
We lost obviously, but at half time, Fernando Hierro complained about his right knee and asked to come off. The coach, Vincente Del Bosque, chose me to play for them in the second half.
“I was heading on when Hierro said ‘it’s okay kid, I’ll carry on’. Can you imagine how great that would have been?
“Left-back Roberto Carlos, midfielders Zidane and Beckman, and up-front Figo, Raul and Ronaldo. You would have to be awful to not look good in that team.
“I didn’t mind though since I was marking Ronaldo. He was so quick”
Parra left the Bernabeu after this, continued playing, but soon chose to change his career.
He said: “I played for Alicante FC in the fourth professional league in Spain.
“After this and a bad injury to my back, I decided to go back to university. Since then, my studies became my priority while still playing football around the area.
“I always played in that division for teams like Oliva and Olimpic de Xativa.
“During this period of time, I spent a few months at different clubs like Villarreal, Ross County and Southport for pre-season. Unfortunately, I felt my back again so I decided to give it a rest.
“I finished my degree and completed a masters degree, at the time there were no jobs in Spain.
“I met my partner who is English and decided to move here to see what it was like. In my first year I coached football in a private school and then, when I learned a bit more English, I started teaching physical education.
Having maintained his love of football over the years, Parra is now looking to help Boro in their quest for success.
“I want to win games with Scarborough,” Parra said.
“We do have good players who want to win and work hard for the team.
“It is true that when things go wrong it is really hard and brings you down, but I do know that this team has experience and confidence which will get us the results.
“We do support each other and care about the club and our fans. I am certain that the wins will come and the team will do better.
I would like to say a big thank you to all the fans and everyone involved in the club for being very supportive of the team.”
When asked about whether he feels he can break into the Boro team, Parra said: “I certainly do think I can. I am desperate to help the team.
“I am a versatile player with experience in a number of positions which always helps you to fit in.
“I am confident that I will have my opportunity to play for the club and will make sure I am ready to perform and stay in the team.
“Football is different in Spain. In England it is more physical and demands higher fitness levels, however, I do believe any player can get fitter, while it is very difficult to get better technically and tactically as you get older.
“I am very confident in my ability and optimistic about achieving a first team place and I know I will adapt easily at this level.”
With the years of his playing time ticking on, Parra already has one eye on stepping into full-time coaching.
He said: “I am into coaching already. I have my own Football Academy in Spain which has been running for the last six years.
“It is going well since few of our players from the academy have recently signed for Valencia FC and Villarreal FC.
“I also coach football teams from under-nine to under-19 here in England. I love the sport.”