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Turkey's Arda Turan, left, fights for the ball with Honduras player Wilson Palacios, right, during their friendly soccer match at Inonu stadium in Istanbul, on March 3, 2010. ((Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images) )

Wilson Palacios

Born: July 29, 1984, in La Ceiba, Honduras

Position: Midfielder

Nickname: El Mago (The magician)

Clubs played for: Palacios distinguished himself at Honduras's most successful club Club Deportivo Olimpia before Birmingham City brought him to the Premiership on a loan in 2007. Palacios enhanced his reputation as a stubborn holding midfielder encouraging Wigan Athletic to offer buy El Mago from Olimpia. The 25-year-old stayed at the JJB for only one season, and was praised across England for his excellent ability to cut out passes and push the ball forward effectively. Tottenham paid Wigan $18 million Cdn this past summer and Palacios immediately became a star at White Hart Lane.

International career: Palacios is the engine of the Honduran national team. Since Honduras's success depends heavily on quick transition between defence and attack, Palacios is indispensable to head coach Reinaldo Rueda because he can quickly win the ball and drive it forward.

Why is he so special? The perfect sliding tackle — a crisp, picturesque swipe that cleanly sweeps the ball away from an opponent without inflicting any bodily harm — is a technique that's been perverted by vengeance and malice, but Palacios is among the few who can consistently unleash with perfect execution.

His most famous moment: Palacios doesn't score as much as he did in his first years with Olimpia, but during the second round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 World Cup,  El Mago scored two goals in two legs against Puerto Rico.

He said it: "On a personal level, yes it has been an extremely tough year [His brother was killed by kidnappers]. But all you can do is keep focused and keep moving forward. Off the field I am just an ordinary guy. My motivation is kicking a football."

What they are saying about him: "He's brilliant and the type of player the club's been looking for for a long time.... He keeps the ball and he's great for a defender because he breaks up so much in front of you." Ledley King, Tottenham Hotspur teammate.

Here is an interesting fact: Palacios's younger brother Edwin was kidnapped in 2007 and the family paid $190,000 for his safe return. The assailants said they released the 16-year-old but the family could not contact Edwin. In 2009, the 18th Street Gang, a prominent Honduran mob, confessed to police that Edwin had been killed and in May 2009, his body was found. Palacios said he thought about retirement, but continued to play for Honduras as the country qualified for the finals for the first time since 1982.