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Hostage to fortune

Marc-Antoine Fortune�s journey from poverty to Paradise began at four when his dad took a homemade ball and some hillside rocks on to a South American beach for a kick-about.

Marc-Antoine Fortune's journey from poverty to Paradise began at four when his dad took a homemade ball and some hillside rocks on to a South American beach for a kick-about.

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As the sun beat down on the Fortunes, Marco began dreaming of a life thousands of miles away as a professional footballer.

The all-year round sunshine and unspoiled beaches of French Guiana, a country bang on the equator, may make it an ideal holiday destination. But, just as his compatriots, Jean-Claude Darcheville, the former Rangers striker, and Florent Malouda, the Chelsea winger, did before him, Fortune worked hard for recognition and a passage on to football's world stage. Even in the midst of a wild thunderstorm, he once defied his dad's orders and turned up for training when the rest of his boys' club team-mates stayed safely indoors.

The 5000 mile journey from the French Guianan capital of Cayenne to Glasgow has been rocky to say the least and on the way he has suffered the tragic death of a team-mate, endured homesickness as a teenager in France and worked his way through a series of unfashionable clubs. But now, after giving up on £1m to play in the English Premier League with Portsmouth and Hull City, Fortune has made it to his promised land - Celtic Park. Fortune, 27, said: "I was four or five years old when my dad took me to a football pitch for the first time. It was on Montjoly beach, near Cayenne. By the end of the day I was bitten by the bug. I was so taken with the game that my dad had to pull in the reins to stop me going into over-drive. The beautiful thing about football is you can play anywhere but you aren't a true Guianan if you can't play it on the beach. The country's best teams train on sand. It's our culture."

After giving up on a promising basketball career, Fortune's first adventure abroad ended in disappointment when, at 16, Rennes turned him down after a trial. Then, after securing a place at lowly French side Angouleme, he worked his way through Lille, Rouen and Stade Brest.

Fortune, speaking in a recent interview with Nancy's official club magazine, said: "I could have made it in basketball but because the training schedules clashed I gave it up at 12.

"Once I'd made my choice I wanted to see it through. Even when people doubted my quality I kept believing.

Even when I realised I was playing with some excellent footballers in a country where no-one ever came to watch you, I believed. I'm very stubborn. When I have an idea in my head I won't let it go until I explore it.

"I was turned down by Rennes but knew I had to stay in France to have any hope of getting into football. Thankfully I got a chance at Angouleme but even that wasn't easy. I arrived in France in the middle of October and it was snowing for the first time in my life.

I missed my family, my friends and the sunshine of Cayenne but I was determined to make it as a footballer."

Fortune's life took an unwanted twist as he moved to Dutch side Utrecht. He was talked into the move by David Di Tommaso, his team-mate and next-door neighbour. But then the Frenchman died of a heart-attack in his sleep aged just 26.

Fortune added: "I live my life day to day now and don't ask myself too many questions. I changed after the death of David. I was distraught. I wouldn't have signed for Utrecht if he hadn't been there. His death made me think deeply about lots of things. Now I don't live for the future, I live for the moment."

Fortune's style is likened to Carlos Tevez. He has never been a prolific goalscorer but during his 17-game, fivegoal loan spell at West Brom last season he did enough to kick off a clamour for his signature. "I'll always do my best to pull defences apart," he said. "I can score goals, and take a lot of pleasure from them, but I'm not obsessed by getting a goal. I want to play a big part in the team and always be available to make something happen."

An amateur DJ and a car enthusiast, Fortune has visions of one day becoming an actor . "I'd really like to become an actor and get a part in a comedy. I like Chris Tucker a lot and when I was at primary school I'd always be acting out various comedy sketches."

For the moment, though, there is the serious business of football to attend to.

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