Press article:

Solano pays tribute to toon talisman - 09/01/2006

Solano pays tribute to toon talisman
A top man

Nobby Solano, who has had a hand in so many of Alan Shearer's goals, has paid his own tribute to his skipper.

As Shearer was being lauded from every corner after equalling Jackie Milburn's 200 goals for United, Solano quietly hailed the 35-year-old striker.

Titus Bramble and Solano were the men who started that 80th-minute move which led to Shearer's winner over a plucky and rather unlucky Mansfield Town in Saturday's FA Cup third-round victory, but the Peruvian was delighted by the part played by his big pal Albert Luque.

Solano, who arrived at St James' Park just a couple of years after Shearer, has been involved with so many of those 200 goals, and said: "It was a great moment for Albert, and we know Alan is deadly with those chances.

"I'm very happy for Alan. He deserved it. He's had a great career at this club.

"For a target man he is unbelievable. It's not easy to play that role in the Premier League. When you compare it to the Spanish or Italian leagues you find it's very tough to score in England.

"He's done fantastically at Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle - it's unbelievable how many goals he's scored. He's a great professional.

"I don't know how many I've set up for him, I'm just very happy for him. Every player is proud to play with him.

"It was tough with new faces in the team. On paper everyone expected us to win 3-0 or 4-0, but we knew how difficult it would be.

"They got a lot of confidence, probably because we were giving the ball away too easily.

"We never controlled the game. We needed to do that first, and then we could play."

With United down to the bare bones in midfield on Saturday, Solano was happy to be switched to play an unaccustomed left-sided role, with young Martin Brittain out on the right.

And the South American added: "You sometimes have to make sacrifices. It's not my best position, but with so many players out you have to do that.

"The most important thing was the result. It wasn't a great game, but sometimes games are like that."

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