Solano pays a visit to Magpies' training base
Written by Tom Easterby
Former Newcastle United favourite Nolberto Solano paid a visit to the club’s Benton training base on Tuesday.
Solano, who made a total of 315 appearances in two separate spells with the Magpies, popped in to catch up with a few familiar faces – as well as manager Rafa Benítez.
The Peruvian winger was, and still is, a popular figure at United, thanks to his successful stints at St. James’ Park between 1998 and 2004 and 2005 to 2007.
Many of the club’s staff from the 43-year-old’s playing days remain at the club, including goalkeeping coach Simon Smith, head physiotherapist Derek Wright and kit manager Ray Thompson.
And Solano – speaking to nufc.co.uk – admitted returning to the training ground was an “emotional” experience.
“My friend, my heart is always in Newcastle!” laughs Solano, who is now preparing for this summer’s World Cup as assistant coach of his country. “I’m just visiting, because I’ve been with the national team so I’ve been working. But I have a few days off, so I came over to say hello to everyone. I’ve always been missing Newcastle – I have a lot of good friends and good relationships here.
“The last time (I visited) was about a year-and-a-half or two years ago, but it’s nice to see the same faces in the kitchen, the kitmen, the guys who do the grass. It’s so nice, so lovely. I was here for years and years so always it brings you back a little bit. It’s emotional.”
The former Boca Juniors man – who bagged 48 goals in black and white – spoke with Benítez to arrange his visit.
And with a first major tournament in coaching on the horizon for Solano, he revealed he picked up a few pointers from the Champions League-winning Magpies boss.
“I managed to speak to him to ask him if it was possible – you always have a bit of respect, even though I feel like it’s my house!” said Solano. “But it’s nice, and he’s made me feel very welcome here. He’s working so hard for the club – I know it’s not that easy – but he knows the game so well and he has a lot of experience.
“Rafa is a great man, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him. I’m still involved with football now, coaching Peru, and it’s nice to talk about football. He’s given me some tips – he’s an experienced man. I’m learning and learning.”