Solano works out the physical side - 11/04/2003
By his own admission, Nolberto Solano was a weak link in the Newcastle United team when he began life as a Premiership midfielder five years ago, but he has since risen in stature and status on Tyneside.
"The Peruvian international has met the challenge of English football by working on his fitness, physique and work-rate and allying them to the finesse and dead-ball skills which have made him a potent part of Sir Bobby Robson's attacking side.
"Things have worked out better than I could have expected when I arrived in Newcastle," said Solano. "When I first came here, it was too hard. I found talent alone was not enough, you must also use your body. When you play it's like being a gladiator. People want to see you come out and fight. "I'm tougher than when I first arrived. I was very thin. I'm not like Alan Shearer now, but I'm much stronger thanks to the gym and the different training methods. It's hard, but you need to do more to keep up with Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy, who are very fast."
Solano, signed for stlg2.5 million from Boca Juniors in 1998, has benefited from working under Robson, who added: "He somehow seemed to lose some condition but we've worked on that. We've also left him out of the team, which is good therapy. Players don't think so at the time, but I know otherwise." Solano will be hoping to get Robson's call for second-placed Manchester United's visit to St James' Park tomorrow, when defeat would end the title pursuit of third-placed Newcastle.
"Everyone loves playing against Manchester United and everyone wants to play in those games," Solano added. "I have many happy memories of being in England but one of the most special was my goal against Man United four years ago. I scored with a free-kick against the best goalkeeper in the world, Peter Schmeichel, and against the best club in the world, but lost 2-1. This game is crucial and we need to win."
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