'El Titan' might not be the subtlest nickname in football but it is perhaps the most fitting, succinctly describing Eintracht Frankfurt's Carlos Salcedo, who has quietly developed into an irreplaceable – if often underappreciated - player for club and country in recent months.
Think about it for a moment. Who immediately comes to mind as the Eagles' standout players last season? Maybe Kevin-Prince Boateng, leading by example in midfield. Or Ante Rebic, spearheading the side to an unlikely 3-1 win over Bayern Munich in the DFB Cup final. Or Marius Wolf, Omar Mascarell and Lukas Hradecky, who all earned high-profile summer transfers to Bundesliga rivals. But Salcedo?
The same is true at international level, where club-mate Marco Fabian and former Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez are just two members of El Tri who grab the headlines ahead of the mild-mannered centre-back.
That relative anonymity can create a false impression that he is a solid performer, but one who blends into the crowd and has little merit in his own right. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
While Salcedo's statistics last season stand up to close scrutiny – he won 54 per cent of all duels, completed 83 per cent of all passes and made 17 Bundesliga starts in an injury-hit campaign – his value arguably lies in less quantifiable areas.
Watch: Carlos Salcedo on his "band of brothers" at Eintracht Frankfurt.
It is telling that last season in the Bundesliga, Frankfurt earned an average of 1.6 points per game when Salcedo played, and just 1.2 per game without him. What is that down to? Positioning? Determination? Reading of the game?
For Frankfurt sporting director Bruno Hübner, Salcedo's "strong presence" is key and was the chief reason why the Eagles swiftly moved to make the towering 6'2" defender's loan move from Chivas Guadalajara a permanent one in May this year.
"He's good at opening up the game and has the necessary ruggedness," Hübner continued. "Despite suffering a shoulder injury, he returned to fitness quicker than anticipated because he worked intensively on his recovery process. That shows his professional attitude. He's an important pillar of our defence."
That same steadfast mindset was evident even in his formative years. At the age of 18 he took himself from his homeland to the USA to expand his horizons at Real Salt Lake. There, he would sleep on a blow-up mattress at a team-mate's house and would constantly beg the club's coaches to put on extra sessions for him in the evenings when everyone else had gone home.
Once he even played on through severe stomach pains, helping his side to a 3-0 win before receiving the diagnosis that his gall bladder would need to be removed that same night.
Such intangible qualities often go unnoticed, but can have a galvanizing effect on morale and confidence throughout the whole squad. Couple that with his ease on the ball and no-nonsense defending and it is easy to see why Frankfurt were so keen to tie him down to a four-year contract.
The affection is very much mutual though, with the 24-year-old dropping in on Frankfurt's first day of pre-season training despite still being on a post-World Cup break, while he also admitted he had rejected offers from other teams after his impressive displays in Russia.
"My family is comfortable in Frankfurt and the club has grown close to my heart following our recent success,” he told the Frankfurt website. “I want to give everything for Eintracht and my teammates, who gave me a wonderful welcome [when I joined]. The way they accommodated me was an amazing gesture.”