By Suhas BhatFollow @@suhasrbhat
Peter Crouch, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Nicolas Anelka, Robbie Keane are all household names who have constantly been on the move during their careers. And while Anelka having once played for Liverpool and Keane being on Inter Milan's books might surprise some fans, they are journeymen of the usual kind, playing it safe by joining some of the established clubs in Europe.
Compare that to Hulk's career and it is apparent that the Brazilian has chosen the road less travelled. Having struggled to break into the Vitoria first team in Brazil, Hulk turned out for the likes of Kawasaki Frontale, Consadole Sapporo and Tokyo Verdy before getting a chance to play for Portuguese giants Porto in 2008.
Akin to Ronaldo with PSV or Ronaldinho with Paris Saint-Germain, Hulk joined lesser lights as an influx of South American talent in the noughties as well as the rise of third-party ownership made it tough for aspiring South Americans to secure moves to Europe.
But the Brazilian always wanted to play at the the Estádio do Dragão. At the age of 16, he visited the stadium and declared to his friends that he would play for Porto one day and six years later, the muscular forward finally got his chance when Porto bought 50% of his rights from the third-party group which manages him.
And when he finally did get a chance to play in the Primeira Liga, he took it with a ferocity that would have made his namesake proud. He established a name for himself as one of the premier goalscorers on the continent and was one of the stars of the 2010-11 treble-winning Porto squad.
When Andre Villas-Boas left the club to join Chelsea last summer, it seemed that yet another career switch was in store for him, and English copywriters screamed in glee.
Ultimately, all the excitement was for nought.
Never one to let others dictate his move (and partly due to Porto's determination to secure the maximum dividends from his sale), Hulk stayed on at Porto and only recently moved to the icy climes of the Russian Premier League after Zenit agreed to pay a whopping €40 million fee for his services.
Over the weekend, the Brazil international made his first appearance to widespread applause in the Russian Premier League although it was an underwhelming debut. Another Brazilian in Terek FC's Ailton stole the show as the Russian champions were beaten 2-0 at home on Saturday.
Hulk, who used to take the number 12 shirt to honour the watching fans, shouldn't be too perturbed by that result though, as he's been brought in primarily to help power the Sine-Belo-Golubye further forward on the European front.
Having lost out to Benfica in the round of 16 last season, Zenit will be looking to achieve at least a quarter-final berth this time around but have to deal with the likes of AC Milan, Anderlecht and Malaga in Group C.
With the likes of Bruno Alves, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Danny, along with promising Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel and an attack-minded coach in Luciano Spalletti in their ranks - Zenit could be the darkest of horses this time around.
On the other hand, Malaga, Zenit's opponents on Tuesday, serve as a warning on how dangerous misplaced optimism can be.
The Andalusian side are also bankrolled by oil wealth - Zenit are owned by natural gas giant Gazprom - though that tap has run dry for them in recent months.
Over the summer, reports of owner Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani's disenchantment with the club and his annoyance at Real Madrid and Barcelona's hold over television income has led to a tightening of the wage budget and the sales of key players such as Santi Cazorla, Salomon Rondon and Joris Mathijsen.
Malaga are clearly a depleted outfit compared to the side that nearly grabbed third-place in the 2011/12 season and threatened to derail Real Madrid's title bid with a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu back in March.
The only saving grace for the club, debutants in the Champions League, is that in Manuel Pellegrini, they do have an astute tactician capable of upsetting the bookmakers. He is currently a unifying factor at the club but the meaner defences in the Champions League will make it difficult for former Real and Barcelona striker Javier Saviola or 19-year-old Juanmi Jimenez to score the necessary goals.
While they have impressed in the La Liga in recent weeks, they look set to struggle against Zenit on Tuesday.
The bigger story on the day, however, will definitely be Hulk himself. He can provide that touch of class to help the Russian side both thrill and surprise in the Champions League.
No Russian side has ever won the continent's premier competition. But with the acquisition of the pacey, action-packed, ferocious and powerful Hulk in their ranks, Zenit's chances have been given more than a slight boost.
Malaga would do well to tame the beast before he goes berserk at La Rosaleda.
Will Hulk score his first goal for Zenit in the Champions League? Catch all the action LIVE as ESPNSTAR.com covers the first round of matches from 2.15 AM HKT onwards on Tuesday.