'El Maleno' overcomes troubles to become a pro

Yesterday we posted the news that Mexican forward Daniel Frias joined the Rapids preseason camp. For some reason his name had a familiar ring to it. Upon googling him, I came across his story - and photos, and videos, and more stories.

His full name is Julio Daniel Frias Adema. He goes by Daniel Frias, but he's also often referred to as "El Maleno," which Oscar Pareja tells me it roughly translates as "The neighborhood guy."

He's somewhat of a legend in Cuidad Juarez (Mexico), the place where he was born and name of the team on which he debuted in the Mexican First Division at age 29. Previously, he played in El Paso, Texas. THIS STORY IN THE EL PASO TIMES is about his journey from the minor leagues of U.S. soccer, to the top division in Mexico. 

But that doesn't tell his full story - the reason behind the support he's received from his hometown. Frias had a troubled youth which included violence and drugs - in a city still known for such issues. But thanks to soccer, he straightened himself out, making his pro debut at 20-year-old (lower division). He's been greatful for the support he's received and opportunities he's been presented with ever since. HERE'S MORE OF HIS STORY IN ESTO (SPANISH)

Twenty-nine is thought to be an 'old' age for a player to finally make a top division. But his story goes even futher. After Juarez was relegated, he signed with Jaguares and last year (April 2011) he scored a goal in the prestigious Copa Libertadores. (Google his name for more info and highlights)