NOBBY Solano stands on the brink of etching his name in the FA Cup history books, WRITES CRAIG HOPE.
Within nine months of landing on Tyneside back in 1998, then aged just 23, he had become not only the first Peruvian to grace the Premier League but also the first to take to the famous Wembley turf in an FA Cup Final.
He starred in every round of that year’s competition for Newcastle United as, with Ruud Gullit in charge of the Magpies, they stormed to the final only to be beaten by Manchester United en-route to their historic treble.
So, should the fit-again Solano feature against Stevenage tomorrow, and help secure passage into the second round, he will become the first Peruvian, and indeed South American, to have appeared in every round of the world’s most prestigious domestic cup competition.
And the 36-year-old admits it would be a proud achievement in a career which is approaching its final chapter.
“It would be special for me to do that,” he said when SportMail brought the possibility of the feat to his attention.
“I’ve never had the chance to come in at the first round so this is a first for me and maybe something I never thought I’d do.
“I’m looking to enjoy it and I’m hoping to play.
“But, not just for me, it’s important for the club that we get through to the next round.
“It’s especially important to win because it’s at home and we haven’t been good enough at home recently.”
Solano, unlike most foreign imports, does not talk of watching the FA Cup on television back in his homeland as a child.
And the midfielder, who hails from the port town of Callao on the South Pacific Ocean, admits he didn’t appreciate the significance of the cup competition until he arrived in the North-East.
“I didn’t realise until I moved here how special the competition is,” he went on.
“In other countries such as Spain and Italy the cup is not as important.
“But when I went to Newcastle I quickly realised how big it was, especially because of their tradition.
“When we got to the final I had a lot of attention because I was the first person from my country to do so and that was a proud moment.
“Unfortunately we got beat but it was very memorable playing at Wembley.”
FULL story in Friday’s Mail ...