Nobby Solano interview: Newcastle legend speaks for first time since taking over at Blyth Spartans

Nobby Solano has shrugged off the fanfare that followed his decision to take over as manager of Blyth Spartans.

The South American played with mega stars like Diego Maradona and Alan Shearer during his career and wowed fans in the Champions League and Copa America. But he has played down his own glittering as a Premier League star, and has spoken about the hard work it will take to guide Blyth from the Pitching In Northern Premier League as he looks to build a team from the ashes of a Spartans team that were relegated from the Vanarama League.

Days of scoring wonder goals on the big stage with Newcastle are firmly behind him and it will now be whether Solano can deliver from the dugout on a cold night in Morpeth or Matlock. Solano is eager for the challenge to begin and is already counting down the days until pre-season as he looks to reshape his squad at Croft Park.

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Solano told Chronicle Live: "First and foremost I want to say thank you to Irfan Liaquat and director of football Steve Howard for trusting me and giving me the opportunity. It is a big challenge but it gives me a chance to manage in English football. I have a lot of respect for the division we are in.

"When the opportunity come along you have to take it. Everybody has dreams to coach in the Premier League but I was excited to be offered this chance with Blyth Spartans.

"I have been lucky enough to coach at international level with Peru and have done so at a World Cup and Copa America, so that is all experience and gives me confidence to take into Blyth. I am proud and happy to be here and I want our players to have pride when they pull on the famous green and white stripes."

Blyth owner Irfan Liaquat took over the club in March but Spartans sunk from a position of outside play-off contenders to relegation in the space of weeks. The businessman spoke of taking Blyth into the EFL and following the lead of Wrexham or Salford City, but what is the level of ambition?

Solano said: "When you get an opportunity like this you don't say know. Do we have ambition? Yes. The owner does, that's why I liked the opportunity, we hope to take Blyth to the next level now.

"The first job is to concentrate on getting promoted back to Vanarama National League North but we will pay the league we are now in with a lot of respect. We will meet and talk to fans and have events planned because they are vital to us."

Solano will scour the transfer market for opportunities and try to sew a team together. When asked about recruitment expectations, Solano said: "What is great about England is there is a great opportunity to play at different levels, especially when you have been released higher up the pyramid, maybe Middlesbrough, Sunderland or Newcastle.

"Alan Shearer is a great example, he had to go to Southampton and went on to have great career, maybe we can find somebody on a different scale. There are many examples but we can offer some people a chance as long as they are prepared to give everything for us.

"Some places if you don't make it, you won't play anywhere any more but I see the English game of players going to different levels and having good careers. I want to get the right mix of senior players and younger players. This is a good level and a great challenge for everybody.

"The club has ambition, but the first step has to be promotion next season and getting back to the sixth tier, then we see what happens."

Solano's arrival at Blyth brought a lot of attention last week and some observers on the non-league circuit queried whether a former Premier League star has what it takes to go to Guiseley and get something or do it on a wet night in Whitby.

The former Peru international said: "I understand that. Yes, we have played at a high level but I don't play now, I am a coach. I have to prove myself as a coach. I want to help, nurture and develop the players.

"The level is completely different to Premier League of course it is, we have some younger players and they are still learning, I will help them with that, it can be tricky because they aren't professional so only train a couple of times a week and play games.

"But everybody in the league will be the same I won't look for an excuse like that. I will prepare well and while I have worked with professionals in coaching.

"I hope that some lads will stay at the club. I hope people want to work hard, you can play a good game or a bad game, but the attitude has to be right each week and the hard work has to be there. That will be my mantra. Hard work.

"Whatever level you play at you need hard work, discipline and enjoy the game. If you have ambition, that's important as we want to help young lads succeed. We will still have a professional mentality. We train twice a week but we will give players the responsibility of doing work through the week, you don't just need to go to the gym to stay fit. You can run and work from home to stay fit."

Solano will now look to get his head down and put together a squad capable of challenging for promotion. The former Boca Juniors star said: "I am sitting down with the club to clarify who wants to stay or who wants to leave. Some might want to go to play in the same division they were in so we need to see who wants to stay.

"Once I know how many players I can keep, I will then see the number of players I need to bring in. After that, we will work on pre-season from June 20.

"We will have friendlies from July 6. I have been in contact with clubs who have released players, including Newcastle and we will see if anybody is prepared to come to us and show what they can do."