Pericard back after injury and prison
The northern footballing outpost of Brunton Park might seem a remote destination for a striker born in Cameroon and raised in France to rebuild his faltering career.
But that is what Vincent Pericard is doing after a spate of injuries, a dramatic loss of form and a spell in prison derailed a journey that had started at Italian giants Juventus.
The 27-year-old found himself without a club in the summer and went on trial at Cardiff and Bristol City, but they both opted against offering the striker a contract.
The current season started with Pericard still looking for a new home. He was training with Sheffield United to try to maintain his fitness when a scout recommended him to League One side Carlisle.
Pericard headed north in early October to an area he could not remember visiting before to watch the team in action.
Afterwards he signed a three-month deal - the Big V was back.
Pericard was superb early in his Portsmouth career
"I have had a run of games and been scoring goals - it is something that I have been waiting to happen for a long time," said Pericard, who has scored four in his last six games.
"I am very grateful to Carlisle and manager Greg Abbott for giving me the chance. I want to keep hold of the feeling that I have at the moment."
Pericard's footballing journey started at Juve, who spotted the powerful forward playing for France's Under-18 side. They were obviously impressed because they offered him a deal and he spent two seasons with the Old Lady.
He trained daily with a first-team squad that included the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids, Alessandro del Piero, Didier Deschamps and, in his second year, David Trezeguet.
Pericard studied Del Piero's clever movement and was blown away by the finishing skills of Trezeguet. For a young man learning his trade it was a dream.
"It was just the best time," added Pericard, who moved to Italy in July 2000.
"The fact that a club like that wanted me gave me a great amount of confidence."
It also got him noticed. His only first-team appearance came in a Champions League match against Arsenal and then-Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp was suitably impressed to take the striker on loan in August 2002.
"For the first few weeks after I arrived in England, Harry Redknapp was not very impressed with me," Pericard told me.
It took him a little while to settle in a new country and adjust to the hurly burly of Championship football.
But he went on to score nine goals in 32 appearances as Pompey won promotion to the top flight and Redknapp managed to persuade Juve to let him sign Pericard permanently.
The striker thought he would be playing Premier League football for the next few years.
"I did very well in pre-season and I was set to be the main striker but then I got injured," he said.
The first injury was to a thigh muscle but on 12 December 2003 - his first game back - disaster struck. He went up for a header with an Everton defender, landed awkwardly and sustained the knee injury that kept him out until August 2005.
Tony Pulis had managed the strong and powerful Pericard at Plymouth and obviously liked what he saw because he made him his first signing after his return to Stoke.
It was June 2006 and Pericard, then 23, penned a three-year deal. He promised Pulis he would repay the faith shown in him but subsequently failed to do so.
He was a regular in his first season but scored just four times in 31 games. His participation the following year was curtailed by a spell in prison. Pericard had been caught speeding at 103mph but argued that his stepfather had been behind the wheel.
The police checked his story and found that the man in question had not been in England for several years and in August 2007 Pericard was given a four-month sentence for perverting the course of justice.
"It was very difficult - the timing was all wrong," Pericard told me. "I was doing very well in pre-season and feeling fit but then I was sent to prison."
It is difficult to feel sympathy for someone who has told such an idiotic lie and Pericard had to shoulder the full responsibility for his actions. The striker duly served five weeks in a prison in Exeter before his release on parole.
"It was very tough - the diet was terrible, I was locked up all the time and psychologically it was very difficult," he told me.
Pericard tried to maintain a low profile, not telling anyone that he was a professional footballer. After his release problems with the electronic tag he had to wear at all times saw him briefly back in prison.
"It was very scary but I do not regret it because I came out of it a better person," he said. "It is the best lesson I have ever had - it makes you appreciate everything, being healthy and happy. I grew up so much and do not take things for granted any more."
Pericard resumed his career but was in and out of the Stoke team and failed to score in 11 appearances during the remainder of the 2007-8 campaign. It was a season that will live long in the memory for all Stoke supporters as they were promoted to the Premier League but Pericard's contribution was negligible and he ended it on loan at Southampton.
Pericard struggled to make the grade at Stoke
It was the same at the start of the following campaign. The striker did score against Reading in the Carling Cup but did not feature in the league until December and by February he had joined League One side Millwall on loan in search of regular first-team football.
Unfortunately in only his second game for the club, an away fixture at Cheltenham, he ruptured an Achilles tendon, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
And so in the summer Pericard was unattached, with a once-promising career in danger of prematurely petering out.
Pericard insisted that he thought back to his time with Juventus, concluding that he must be a good player for a club of their stature to sign him. He knew that his form would return if he had a run of games and was able to improve his fitness.
"It makes me happy to be playing on Saturdays and Tuesdays and being part of a team winning games," he told me. "It proves people wrong who doubted me about my quality and fitness."
Pericard's three-month deal at Carlisle expires on 12 January and the club have made no secret of their desire to keep him. The striker likewise wants to continue to repay the club for taking a chance on him - but to truly fulfil his ambition of silencing those who thought he was finished the 27-year-old will have to consider all his options.
"If an offer comes in that is too good to say no I would be stupid to do so," said the striker, who told me that he has attracted interest from several clubs.
"I have never thought my best moments are behind me. I haven't reached my peak yet but I need the environment to show it."
At 27, Pericard believes the next three or four years will determine how his career is remembered and is hopeful that, with luck on his side, a return to the top flight is possible.
Perhaps the best clue as to Pericard's current sense of optimism arrived when discussing international football. Pericard has dual French and Cameroon nationality and a few years ago trained with the African side.
Cameroon will be at the World Cup in South Africa and the striker has not given up on being a part of it.
"It is something that I dream of," he said. "It might be a distant dream but if I keep working hard over the next few months you never know."
Cameroon open their campaign with a match against Japan in Bloemfontein on 14 June - and it would cap a remarkable and unlikely return to form if Pericard was there.