Brechin City striker Julian Wade grew up in the Caribbean sunshine island of Dominica kicking plastic bottles in a concrete yard with his bare feet.
He was 11 before he kicked his first real football and he did so against his mum Cecilia’s wishes as she feared he’d end up missing school with a broken foot.
Big brother Darlton Bannis gave Wade his boots to play for Dominican side Bath Road Ambassadors. He believed Julian had the ability to make it as a professional.
With 19 goals in 41 games for the Dominica national side, Wade is his country’s all-time record goal scorer.
He never imagined moving halfway across the world to play for Highland League side Brechin City.
But after spells in Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago and, Guyana and Guadeloupe, Wade has joined his wife Stephie in setting up a new life in Scotland.
“People may wonder why I’m here,” said Wade. “But I’ve been coming to Scotland for five years to see Stephie.
“We went to Dominica State College together.
“She then graduated from the University of Cambridge before getting a job as a process engineer in Aberdeen.
“I’ve been travelling to Scotland for six weeks in the summer and two at Christmas while trying to get a visa.
“It came through in June.
“Yes Scotland is very different from Dominica.
“I’ve had to get used to the cold winters and the ‘summer’. People tell me it’s warm when it is only 17 degrees outside!
“But we love Scotland. I love the people.
“I felt a real warmth from Andy Kirk when I spoke to him about signing for Brechin. Everyone at the club has made me feel welcome and it’s a real home from home.”
Julian Wade loves life in Scotland
Wade’s upbringing couldn’t be more different for the new life he has started in north-east Scotland.
Dominica is labelled ‘The Nature Island’ and boasts coral reefs, stunning waterfalls and picturesque beaches. Average temperatures hover around 30c.
Two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films were shot in Dominica, it boasts 365 rivers and nine active volcanoes.
It was also home to the oldest women in the world – ‘Ma Pampo’ – who lived until the age of 128.
Locals stay healthy by getting by on a diet of natural fruit and vegetables that grow on the island, close to St Lucia.
But while the 72,000 people in Dominica enjoy stunning scenery, many live in poverty.
Wade grew up in a yard called La Kou Zowanj – famous for its orange tree – using anything he could find to substitute as a ball.
“When I was younger we didn’t have a football,” added Wade, 31. “We’d play on concrete, barefoot, kicking anything we could find.
“Often it would be a plastic bottle filled with water. Our parents didn’t like it because if we broke our foot we’d miss school.
“I did that until I was 11 before my older brother tried to get me to play the game properly.
“He would sneak me out and tell my mum I was going to watch him play for Bath Road Ambassadors.
“When we got to the pitch he’d take his boots off and give them to me.
“At first they were three or four sizes too big for me, but it felt great.
“I wouldn’t be playing football if it wasn’t for my brother, my mum or the grace of God.”
Mum Cecilia to watch Wade on Brechin City TV
Wade is a current Dominica international who is using his fame to try and grow the sport in his homeland.
His next list of internationals reads like a five-star list of long-haul luxurious holiday destinations.
Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines. They all await Wade in the Windward Islands Tournament next year.
Before that his mum Cecilia, now living in the British Virgin Islands, will try her best to watch her son playing on Brechin City’s Hedge TV.
“My mum watched all my games in Dominica and has followed me on the stream for the national side,” said Wade.
“I hope she can find a way to watch the live stream for me playing for Brechin.
“A lot of people in Dominica are already following Brechin.
“I hope I can do my country proud because there are many hidden gems there who could make it big in football.”