Ulises de la Cruz
Date of birth
De La Cruz is a former international who played 101 times for Ecuador between 1995 and 2010, having been selected in the squad for two FIFA World Cups.
His club career began when he was 16, starting out playing for Sociedad Deportivo Quito in the Serie A League in Ecuador.
He only arrived in Britain at the age of 27 when he signed for Hibernian in 2001. The following year he moved south of the border to join Aston Villa, meanwhile internationally he was a mainstay of the Ecuador side and played in the 2006 World Cup finals before linking up with the newly promoted Reading later that same summer.
He may only have played a bit-part role in the clubs initial two-year Premier League experience, but the Ecuadorian international full-back proved a vastly experienced piece in the Royals’ top flight jigsaw puzzle after signing on a free transfer in the summer of 2006.
His only goal for Reading came in a feisty affair and a 3-1 Madejski Stadium win against Sheffield United in January 2007.
All in all he made just 12 starts for the Royals before signing a one-month contract with Birmingham in March 2009.
Off the field, he was a hero back home; Ulises donated large chunks of his weekly wage to a foundation he set up to help underprivileged children back in his home village of Piquiucho.
He retired from football in 2012 to run his charity, Friends of FundeCruz, which helped projects in his local community.