I'm the youngest of four brother and two sisters! My dad Albino was in the
Peruvian Navy and then worked as a taxi driver before he retired, while my mum,
Janet, was very busy bringing us all up. I can remember playing football from
a very early age, like everyone else I used to play in the street. At the age
of six I went to school although I can't say I enjoyed the lessons, all I wanted
to do was play football and homework just got in the way!
When I did manage to sit down and look at my homework one of my friends would
usually tap on the window and ask me to play. That was all the excuse I needed,
I'd sneak out and try and get back in the house without anyone noticing. However,
I would normally arrive home either covered in dust or mud - you can imagine
what my parents would say!
It was in these younger days that I and a group of friends would play football
in a field near our homes. Sometimes we would eat the earth, not because we
were starving, it was just one of things that's kids used to do. When I came
to England the press got hold of the story and I think a few of them ran stories
calling me 'Earth Boy'!
I return home as often as I can and this photograph shows some of my friends
I grew up with. I had them kitted out in Newcastle strips and now we have a
Newcastle United in Lima as well as in England!
Peru qualified for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, I was only three years
old at the time, so I can't remember much about it. Four years later we qualified
again, and this time it made a big impact on me. By now I was seven years old
and playing football whenever and wherever I could. I always had a dream of
playing for my country and to this day, it is very important for me to play
I have a lot to thank my father for, he also managed to get my first proper
trial in football it's a good story! He was working one day when he saw a guy
called Roberto Rojas at a garage. Rojas was a professional footballer so my
father got talking to him and asked if he could take me for a trial at his club,
Alianza Lima. He told my dad to take me to the ground that Saturday morning.
The ground wasn't too close to where I lived in Lima, so my mum took me on the
bus. When I arrived at the ground, I gave my name and date of birth to one of
the coaches. All the boys were sitting in groups according to their age, the
coach then sat me down in the '75 group. I asked one of the boys sitting next
to me when were we going to play? He said that they had already played their
game! I thought, well if I stay here I'm not going to get a chance. I moved
over to another group, and asked if they had played, they hadn't, so I took
my place in their group, this was the '74 group so I should have been here to
So at the age of eleven I had my first trial. I did OK and I trained every
week with Alianza. After about a month we had a game against Sporting Cristal,
there was a squad of about twenty five boys, I knew they would all wanted to
play centre forward, so in order to get a game, I said I played centre back!
It worked, I got a game and played well, making a good impression against my
The two photographs below show me at Alianza, my first squad photos! I'm in
the centre of the back row in the top photograph, I'm on the extreme right of
the front row in the other photo.
I was happy with my progress at Alianza, I was made captain at the age of twelve,
and at the fourteen I represented my country. I was still playing Centre-back
at this time, even though I wasn't exactly the biggest defender in the league!
I stayed with Alianza Lima until 1992 and I still have very good memories of
the club, but now it was time to sign my first professional contract.
Next Part: Life as a Pro