Nolberto Solano (Peru v Spain, 2004)
A determined attitude and cultured right foot helped Ã¢ÂÂNobbyÃ¢ÂÂ Solano to become Ã¢ÂÂ¨a cult hero in Newcastle, Ã¢ÂÂ¨but he is also one of PeruÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂ¨all-time biggest celebrities. And why not, when he scored goals as good as this one?
Just 20 minutes into PeruÃ¢ÂÂs glamour tie against Spain, ranked 71 places ahead of Ã¢ÂÂ¨the humble South Americans, Joseba EtxeberriaÃ¢ÂÂs loose pass was intercepted. It took just Ã¢ÂÂ¨14 seconds and nine touches between six players for Peru Ã¢ÂÂ¨to take the ball from their defensive third into the Spanish net, silencing most of a 24,000-strong crowd and sending a vocal handful of scattered Peruvians into raptures. And who was there to stroke the ball home? Solano, scorer of 20 goals Ã¢ÂÂ¨in 95 games for Peru.
Ã¢ÂÂWe launched Ã¢ÂÂ¨a counter-attack,Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ¨the trumpet-playing wide-man recalls. Ã¢ÂÂMy friend Andres [Mendoza] crossed the ball. I chested it down, let it bounce and then, from Ã¢ÂÂ¨25 yards, set my sights on goal and hit the ball with Ã¢ÂÂ¨the outside of my right foot. It flew past Ã¢ÂÂ¨Iker Casillas.Ã¢ÂÂ
Although the game finished 2-1 to the Spanish superstars, who would be dumped out of the Euro 2004 group stages a few months after this warm-up match, Solano remembers the game, and his goal, with fondness.
Ã¢ÂÂIt was so special because we donÃ¢ÂÂt often get to play countries like Spain and the very best players in the world.
Ã¢ÂÂThat has to be the very Ã¢ÂÂ¨best goal I ever scored.Ã¢ÂÂ
Words: Rob Stewart and Robert Summerscales. Illustration: German Aczel. From the June issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!