El Salvador: Meet fan who googled players to improve side

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Eriq Zavaleta is a Toronto-based MLS trader who made his El Salvador debut on June

As their first full-time scout, a fan searched the internet looking for players to improve El Salvador's national team is now making his mark.

Hugo Alvarado (36), spent more than a decade searching for suitable players after growing tired of the team's performance on the international stage.

In 1982, the Central American country was last eligible for the World Cup.

He told BBC World Service that he used search terms such as "footballer Salvadorian mom" when he first started.

"Whenever I saw an image of a Hispanic/Latino man, I would open it to see the name.

"Sometimes, I found articles that mentioned their parents' origins. In other cases, I would reach out through social media to ask them.

"Steve Purdy, who had previously played in 1860 Munich, Germany was one of my greatest finds."

"There is nothing Salvadorian about this name, but I had read some information about him and reached out to him via Facebook. We started talking."

El Salvador started October's World Cup qualifiers on Friday with a 1-0 win over Panama. They currently have eight players who were discovered by Alvarado.

"It was like hitting the Jackpot"

El Salvador's top flight only had 12 clubs, making it difficult to attract players.

Alvarado continued, "The infrastructure of Salvadorian football is so broken that a soccer player who grew up elsewhere has better nutrition and training facilities to be able perform."

"So that was how it worked in my head. We could get help from players who were raised in a different system if I could find them.

Many people in El Salvador believed that these players weren't interested in El Salvador. They could have a better life in the United States and Switzerland, so they would be willing to play for their national teams or any other team than El Salvador.

"But I spoke to them and I saw that they were open to the idea. It was like hitting the jackpot!"

Alvarado, a 12-year-old American who immigrated to the USA as a child, now lives in California and feels a tremendous sense of pride when they don the blue jersey.

He had not considered how he could also contribute to their success as players.

He said, "It was just that I wanted help the national team."

"But when they did, a few of them said to me that I wouldn't be able to play against [Lionel] Messi or Argentina or [Andres] Iniesta [Gerard] Pique] if it weren't for what your actions did for me."

"That was the moment I nearly wept because I had never thought about it.

"I have never stopped [before] to listen to those players and their careers and experience, to be in a position to play against top teams and world-class players."