Nico recalls ‘rock star’ moment against Villarreal ace


Brisbane Roar’s Costa Rican striker Jean Carlos Solorzano is ready to wind the clock back 10 years and gain some revenge against Villarreal’s Mexican Giovani when the two teams clash in the LFP World Challenge at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, 3 June (7pm kick off).

In 2005, the pair were opponents at the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Peru.

Solorzano’s Costa Rica was leading Giovani’s Mexico 1-0 with two minutes to go in their quarter-final in Piura when Mexican defender Efraín Juárez Valdez (whose 67th minute own goal had given the Costa Ricans the lead) levelled the scores.

The Mexicans won the match 3-1 in extra time and went on to win the tournament.

Solorzano remembers the then 16-year-old Giovani, who was already on the books with Spanish giants Barcelona, as one of the stand-out players of the championship.

The Mexican provided the assist on half of the 16 goals his team scored at the championships (and played 84 minutes in Mexico’s 3-0 win over Ange Postecoglou’s and Robbie Kruse’s Australia) and went on to win the Silver Ball after being voted by the media as one of the tournament’s most outstanding players.

“He had great skills and a real presence on the pitch,” Solorzano said.

“You knew then he was destined for big things.”

Giovani graphic

The pair clashed again two years later in a CONCACAF Under-20s World Championship qualification match.

Giovani was on the bench for Mexico as a long-haired Solorzano scored one of the goals of his career.

“They called me a rock star in stories after that goal,” Solorzano laughed.

Villarreal this afternoon named a strong squad for their tour of Australia (they also play Adelaide United at the Adelaide Oval on Friday, 29 May).

The touring party is: Goalkeepers: Juan Carlos Sánchez Martínez, Aitor Fernández Abarisketa; Defenders: Jaume Vicent Costa Jorda, Mario Gaspar Perez Martínez, Jose Antonio Dorado Ramírez,  Antonio Rukavina, Cayetano Bartolomé Bonnin Vasquez,  Víctor Ruiz Torre;  Midfielders: Sergio Marcos Gonzalez, Tomás Pina Isla, Manuel Trigueros Munoz, Bruno Soriano Llido, Moises Gómez Bordonado, Jonathan Dos Santos Ramirez; Forwards: Luciano Dario Vietto, Giovani Dos Santos, Gerard Moreno Balaguero, Denis Tcherychev (Adelaide game only).

That squad includes six internationals – Bruno (Spain), Rukavina (Serbia), Tcherychev (Russia), Vasquez (Dominican Republic) and the Dos Santos brothers (Mexico). All the others are Villarreal first team regulars.

Solorzano, known at the Roar as “Nico”,  is disappointed the squad doesn’t include fellow Costa Rican Joel Campbell, who has been in impressive form for the Yellow Submarine this season while on a loan spell from Arsenal.

“It would have been great to have another Costa Rican playing on Suncorp Stadium,” Solorzano said.

“But the Villarreal squad is strong and it is going to be a top game that all the Roar players are looking forward to.

“It will be the first time for me at the Roar that there will be more players on the park speaking Spanish than English. I’ll have to be careful what I say,” he joked.

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