Football: Solano in mood to stamp his presence
Conrad Leach talks to a beaten finalist cast as the pride of Peru
Sunday 27 June 1999
On Tuesday, Peru play their opening match in the Copa America, and Solano, 24, after becoming the first Peruvian to play in the FA Cup final, has a chance to put that chastening defeat by Manchester United behind him.
The man whose wedding was televised and whose face is on stamps in Peru helped provide a competitive start to the final but he acknowledges that Alex Ferguson's treble-winning men were the better team: "Being in the Cup final was very important but people only remember you if you win - Manchester United are a great team." Six weeks on he has to raise himself for another battle on the side of the underdogs. For Newcastle read Peru, for Manchester United, read Brazil, the current holders.
The Copa America, South America's equivalent of the European Championship, is played every two years - Solano played four years ago in Uruguay, but did not feature in 1997 as Peru concentrated on qualifying for the World Cup, failing only on goal difference after a gruelling programme of 16 matches.
Now Solano, bought last July by then Newcastle manager Kenny Dalglish for pounds 2.5m from Boca Juniors, where he played alongside his boyhood idol, Diego Maradona, is turning his attention to guiding his country through a tournament they have won only twice.
Their first opponents are Japan (tournament guests), and they also play Bolivia and the hosts. That, as Solano explains, is a game already charged with more than a hint of revenge. "We lost our game in Paraguay during the France 98 qualifiers, but it was a great atmosphere because of what was at stake. This time we play them again and that will mean full stadiums, and as Paraguay reached the last World Cup that will make everyone even more excited."
After experiencing an 80,000 crowd at Wembley, the salsa-dancing Solano is already looking forward to what he thinks will be an even hotter reception in Paraguay. "There will be an incredible atmosphere at the games," says the man nicknamed Nobby by the Newcastle faithful. "The fans are very passionate, so there are still fences around the stadiums. In South America, there can be violence outside the stadiums especially after derby games. Chile are our greatest rivals and we could play them in the quarter-finals."
Solano sees similarities between the current Peru and Newcastle United sides, in that they are both steadily improving, but now the immediate task for him and his teammates is to try to revive memories of the side, inspired by Teofilio Cubillas, who won the Copa America in 1975 and three years later beat Scotland in reaching the last eight of the World Cup. "It will be hard but not impossible for Peru to reach the quarter-finals but everyone will have their strongest teams out this year," Solano said. "The favourites are Brazil and Argentina, and maybe Colombia and Paraguay could spring a surprise. But I know that the other bigger countries have a bit more respect for us now because we are getting better."
For at least one salsa lover, the pace is about to step up a notch.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Latest in Sport
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Man cycles down water slide in incredible stunt video
Napoli 2 Arsenal 0 match report: Nightmare in Naples leaves Arsenal to battle giants
Transfer news: Wayne Rooney sparks Manchester United exit rumours after rejecting new contract talks - reports
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...