Nobby Solano, the first Peruvian to play in the Premier League and a cult hero at Newcastle United. The versatile right-sided midfielder was capable of some outrageous goals and is the week’s Premier League hero.
Nolberto Albino Solano Todco was born in Callao, Peru on the 12th of December 1974 and began his professional football career at the age of 17 with Sporting Cristal. Solano won the Peruvian Championship with Sporting Cristal in 1994, 1995 and 1996 before moving on to Argentinian side Boca Juniors in 1997. The midfielder was a teammate of Diego Maradona for the one season he was at Boca Juniors and was named the second best South American player in 1997 before deciding to move to England.
Solano became the first ever Peruvian to play in the Premier League when he moved to St James Park in 1998 for just under £2.5m. The transfer created such excitement from the Newcastle fans that there was a huge turnout at his debut for the Newcastle reserves but he rewarded the fans with a goal in the same game. The Peruvian made his Premier League debut against Chelsea on the 22nd of August 1998 and he went on to score 6 times in 29 league appearances in the 98/99 season as Newcastle finished 13th in the league. Solano played in the 1999 FA Cup final with Newcastle but unfortunately they lost the tie to Manchester United 2-0.
The Peruvian’s 99/00 and 00/01 league form were similar as he scored 3 times in 30 appearances and scored 6 times in 33 appearances as Newcastle finished 11th in both seasons. The Peruvian signed a new contract with the club in June 2001 and scored an unbelievable solo goal against 1860 Munchen a month later in the Intertoto Cup. Solano became a key player for Newcastle in the 01/02 season as he played 37 out of the 38 league games and scored 7 times as Newcastle shot up the table and finished an impressive 4th.
Newcastle continued to progress in the 02/03 season and Solano played his part as he played 31 league games and scored 7 key goals as they finished 3rd in the league. Although, the midfielder only stayed for half of the 03/04 season as he moved on to Aston Villa in January 2004 for £1.5m.
Solano still felt attached to Newcastle United but felt he had to leave the club due to a strained relationship with manager Bobby Robson. The midfielder signed a two and a half year contract with Aston Villa and made his debut in a 5-0 victory over Leicester on the 31st of January 2004. Solano didn’t play a huge role in Villa’s 6th place finish in the 03/04 season but was a key player for them in the 04/05 season as he was named the fans player of the season for his 8 goals in 36 appearances as Villa remained in the top half of the Premier League. The midfielder only played three times for Villa in the 05/06 season before moving back to Newcastle in August 2005.
Return to Newcastle
Newcastle signed Solano for £1.5m and he stated that Alan Shearer played a huge role in his return to the North East. The Peruvian went straight into the Newcastle line-up and scored 6 times in 29 appearances as they finished 7th in the league. Newcastle played Solano in the right back position for some of the 06/07 season due to a lengthy injury to Stephen Carr but Solano still impressed as he showed consistency in defence and even scored twice in his 28 appearances as Newcastle dropped to 13th in the league.
West Ham United
Solano moved on again as he joined West Ham United in August 2007 on a one year contract. It wasn’t an overly successful season for Solano though as he only managed 23 appearances and 4 goals as West Ham finished 10th on 49 points. The midfielder left English football for two years as he had a stint at Greek side Larissa and returned to Peru for a short while before returning to England in 2010 when he played the second half of the 09/10 season with Leicester City.
Solano returned to the Premier League for the 10/11 season as he signed a one year deal with Hull City. Solano was hoping to stay at the Tigers for longer than his one year deal but instead signed for lower league side Hartlepool the following season which turned out to be his final season as a professional footballer.